BizTucson is proud to present our second annual Women Leading the Re gion Awards, honoring the incredible women who advance Southern Arizona with their vision and dedication. This year’s honorees are thriving in the fields of academia, athletics, banking, biosci ence, cuisine, education, healthcare, public service, real estate and technol ogy. Tara Kirkpatrick, Rodney Camp bell, Eva Halvax and David Pittman share their stories and accomplishments in this fall issue.
Speaking of fall, this season marks the start of Arizona Football and so many other sports at the University of Arizona. Steve Rivera offers an in-depth profile of the man behind our phenom enal Arizona Athletics program—Ath letic Director Dave Heeke. His steady leadership has experienced no deficit of challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent departures from the Pac-12 conference. Through it all, Arizona fans truly have a steady leader and force in Heeke.
So many exciting things are going on at UArizona. Jay Gonzales files an indepth report on the 10-year anniversary of Tech Launch Arizona. The univer sity’s commercialization engine, TLA is bringing the life-changing ideas and technology developed by UArizona’s talented researchers to market powered, in part, by a local capital fund UAVen ture Capital. TLA is shepherding a host of new companies, from new technol ogy to recycle mine tailings, to better optical lenses, to STEM and Sports collaborations. This increasingly lucra tive arm of UArizona has posted a $1.6 billion economic impact for the region.
Loni Nannini posts a deep dive into the two-decade philanthropic legacy of Long Realty Cares Foundation. Estab lished in 2002, the foundation provides a venue for individuals and agents in the iconic company to enhance the quality of life in the region. Since its inception, the foundation has given more than $3.5 million in support and donated to more than 200 different nonprofits.
There is no shortage of incredible individuals in our region and Valerie Vinyard highlights one of them in her fascinating profile of Kathryn Bertine, one of women’s cycling’s most ardent advocates. An author, activist and for mer cyclist herself, Bertine has been steadfast in her push in her push to reinstate the Tour de France Femmes. This summer, the multi-day bike race
commenced. This summer, the Tour de France Femmes commenced. Bertine is still tackling the inequities in the sport and has written a book about her ef forts, called Stand.
As always, BizTucson Magazine ea gerly awaits the annual El Tour de Tuc son, which has raised more than $100 million over four decades for countless charities throughout Southern Arizona. Valerie Vinyard gives us a preview of this year’s race with tweaks to the route and many cycling greats making a de but, as well as an interview with the ex ecutive director of Perimeter Bicycling, TJ Juskiewicz.
Davis-Monthan Air Force Base has a new commander. Tom Leyde reports on the leadership change. Col. Scott C. Mills took command of the Rescue Attack 355th Wing in June, replacing Col. Joseph C. Turnham. Mills comes to DM from Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada and is a command pilot with more than 2,400 flight hours and 300+ combat hours.
Finally, Rodney Campbell files a fas cinating profile on Don Bourn, who leads Bourn Companies which for 30 years has completed more than 4.2 mil lion square feet of development in re tail, office, hospitality and medical in the U.S. Bourn continues to be a topranked employer in the industry and our community.
We are grateful for our loyal readers, the tremendous support of our advertis ers and our exceptional editorial team and their high standards of journalism.Steven E. Rosenberg Publisher & Owner BizTucson PHOTO BY STEVEN MECKLER
Fall 2022 Volume 14 No. 3
Publisher & Owner Steven E. Rosenberg
Creative Director Brent G. Mathis
Contributing Editors Donna Kreutz
Jay Gonzales Elena Acoba Romi Carrell Wittman
Contributing Technology Director Mike Serres
Contributing Project Coordinator Maricela Robles
Christy Krueger Tom Leyde
Jake O’Rourke Loni Nannini
David Pittman Steve Rivera
Valerie Vinyard Romi Carrell Wittman
Contributing Photographers Brent G. Mathis Chris Mooney
BizTucson News Update (Email Newsletter) Brent G. Mathis
Member: American Advertising Federation Tucson DM-50 Southern Arizona Leadership Council Sun Corridor Inc. Tucson Metro Chamber Visit Tucson
BizTucson Magazine Issue 3 (ISSN 1947-5047 print, ISSN 2833-6739 online) is published quarterly for $16 per year by Rosenberg Media, LLC., 4729 E. Sunrise Dr., PMB 505, Tucson, AZ 85718-4534. Periodicals postage pending at Phoenix, AZ, and additional mail ing offices.
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103 15 WOMEN LEADING
Karla Bernal Morales
Lea Márquez Peterson
Sandra Sagehorn-Elliott Michelle Trindade
From the Publisher
Gets a New Leader
Long Road Leads to Tucson
for an Athletics District
& Hearing Sciences to New Level
Tucson Annual Meeting, New Routes to Canada
Better El Tour de Tucson
CEO TJ Juskiewicz
de Force, Cycling Advocate Kathryn Bertine
Companies Specializes in
ABOUT THE COVER
Women Leading the Region
Photography by Chris Mooney
Creative Design by Brent G. Mathis
and Makeup by Gadabout
172 Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson 2022 Awards
176 FosterEd wins Social Venture Partners “Fast Pitch”
178 On The Radar
Receives National Acclaim
Mills Takes Command
Davis-Monthan Gets a New LeaderBy Tom Leyde
Davis-Monthan Air Force Base has a new leader.
Col. Scott C. Mills took command of the Rescue Attack 355th Wing on June 30, replacing Col. Joseph C. Turnham in a ceremony in a base hangar.
Mills came to Davis-Monthan from Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, where he served as the 57th Operations Group commander. He is a command pilot with more than 2,400 flight hours and more than 300 combat hours.
As new commander, Mills also serves as installation commander for all of Davis-Monthan, supporting servicemen and servicewomen and operations as signed to the wing and 34 federal mis sion partners.
“We all stand together right now at a time of uncertainty in the world,” he said, pointing out that there are unex pected challenges in Europe and else where.
“Our adversaries across the world are moving, changing and accelerating, and to deter fighting on the land, you’ve got to out-speed them, out-chase them and out-accelerate them,” Mills said. “And there is no team on this planet that I would rather be a part of to face that challenge than this one. The 355th Wing will always be ready.”
Turnham commanded Davis-Mon than for two years and has moved to Peterson Space Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colo. There he is serving as director of the North American Aero space Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command Joint Operations Center.
Turnham was presented with the Le gion of Merit medal during the ceremo
ny and was praised for his accomplish ments at Davis-Monthan by Maj. Gen. Michael G. Koscheski, commander of the 15th Air Force.
“We offer a heartfelt thank you to Col. Turnham’s tremendous leadership and support for the 355th Wing,” Kos cheski said.
He commended Turnham for his leadership during one of the most chal lenging times in the nation’s history. Turnham navigated the base through the challenges of the COVID-19 pan demic and was involved in directing the airlifting more than 2,500 Afghan refu gees as the U.S. ended its military opera tions in Afghanistan.
“Command is a team sport,” Turn ham said, “and I’ve been blessed with an incredible team.”
He said Tucson is a great place for an Air Force base “because of all the sup port you provide for us and our fami lies.”
“The truth is most of this incredible team isn’t even here today,” Turnham said to the audience at the ceremony. “They’re manning the gate. They’re sit ting in the control tower. Most of this team of 6,800 airmen are out there making things happen because airpow er is powered by airmen, not command ers. These are your accomplishments, not mine: extraordinary airmen doing extraordinary things. Thanks to this team, I’m leaving a base better than I found it and in better hands.”
Mills said there have always been two constants. “No. 1, there’s always going to be someone who needs rescuing. And No. 2, there’s always going to be some one who needs to be attacked.”
The 355th Wing was first activated in 1942 as the 355th Fighter Group, fly ing P47s and P51 Mustangs as escorts for bombers attacking Germany during World War II. It was active in South east Asia for five years before locating at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in July 1971.
“He ensured the continuation of critical missions while safeguarding the health and safety or our airmen, our families and our community,” Kosches ki said.
The outgoing commander also helped strengthen the 355th’s Rescue Attack unit and developed relationships on and off the base, Koscheski said.
The change of command at DavisMonthan is conducted every two years. Change-of-command ceremonies in the U.S. military date back to July 3, 1775, when Gen. George Washington drew his sword under an elm tree in Cam bridge, Mass., to assume command of the Continental Army.
“Command is a team sport, and I’ve been blessed with an incredible team.”
Col. Joseph C. Turnham Outgoing Commander Davis-Monthan Air Force Base
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nounced that Guy Shoaf joined the firm as pr Shoaf brings more than 30 years of experience in health care construction project management in the greater Tucson area. He’s held leadership roles for several construction organizations and his skills in the over sight of complex projects will be an as set to Lloyd as the company grows its healthcare portfolio
Tech Parks Arizona leader Carol Stewart was promoted to VP at the Uni versity of Arizona. Stewart leads the UA Tech Park at Rita Road with a team of professionals that collectively has over 165 years of experience and is devel oping the UA Tech Park at the Bridg es. She is also president of the UArizona Center for Innovation.Carol Stewart
IN-DEPTH COVERAGE IN OCTOBER
KVOA - News 4 Tucson
Tune in to KVOA - News 4 Tucson in October as our news team gives you in-depth coverage of the Fall 2022 Edition and in-depth Special Reports. We are honored to collaborate with BizTucson Magazine to bring you these news reports. For more information, visit our website at KVOA.comROBBIE REYNOLD KVOA
Heeke’s LongRoad Leads to Tucson
Michigan Man Finds a Home at UArizonaBy Steve Rivera
For Dave Heeke it was a long and sometimes winding road to get from Michigan, where he grew up, to become the athletic director at the University of Arizona. The road took him from Mich igan to Ohio to Oregon back to Michi gan and then to Tucson.
The 58-year-old son of a dentist and a nurse holds the official title of VP and director of athletics and recently com pleted his fifth year at UArizona. He just signed on to lead the $100 million ath letics enterprise for another three years.
Even from his distant stops, Heeke’s seemingly always had the UArizona in mind thanks to former UArizona athletic director Cedric Dempsey and Heeke’s admiration for Wildcats ath letics. Dempsey and Heeke are both Albion College grads, as was legendary UArizona sports figure J.F. “Pop” McK ale.
“The first day at Albion, the dean of men walked us into the gym and said, ‘If you want to really amount to any thing you need to be like these people,’ and one of those names on the wall was Cedric Dempsey,” Heeke recalled. “He was one of the great athletes at Albion College.”
That was the early 1980s before Dempsey had become UArizona’s ath letic director.
When Heeke worked at the Univer sity of Oregon from 1988 to 2006, he
watched how Dempsey ran UArizona’s program.
“I was always keenly aware and ob serving Arizona all the time because of his leadership,” Heeke said. “Then he goes on to become the CEO and presi dent of the NCAA. What a big influ ence from a college athletics leadership standpoint.”
When UArizona athletic director Greg Byrne left in 2017, Heeke was hired by then UArizona President Ann Weaver Hart, who said he “was a per fect match” for the job.
The following in Dempsey’s footsteps was complete.
“I thought that was a place I’d like to be,” Heeke said. “I was thrilled to be a director at the Power-5 level of an iconic program with the importance of basketball, but there’s a strong brand nationally. People underestimate that a little bit.
“I wanted to bring what I think are my principles and values to the pro gram to make it the best it can possibly be from a student-athlete experience because that’s been the heart of this place. If you talk to people who have played here, they just love it because of that connectivity. I didn’t want to mess it up.”
The first five years haven’t been easy. But there have been significant bright spots: improvements in infrastructure
like the $16.5 million Cole and Jean nie Davis Sports Center, $8 million in improvements at Hillenbrand Stadium and $15 million at the Hillenbrand Aquatic Center. There was another $15 million in improvements in football fa cilities, including new turf at Arizona Stadium. It all added up to $100 mil lion in facility investments over a 5-year period.
On a different side of the ledger, Heeke had to deal with a $45 million revenue shortfall in fiscal 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic when sports seasons went on without fans in the stands. The department ended 2021 with a $26 million shortfall, and mea sures were taken to catch up, including staff reductions and a $15 million bridge loan from the university. The depart ment bounced back in fiscal 2022 by turning a $16.5 million profit.
Heeke also had the difficult task of firing a head football coach, Kevin Sumlin, after three miserable years of football, and a head basketball coach, Sean Miller, in the midst of an NCAA probe and mediocre performances. Both coaches received multimillion-dol lar buyouts on their contracts.
“It’s never easy to make changes,” he said. “It’s people’s livelihoods. There’s a lot on the line. You want to do the right thing and try to handle it the right way.
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But, in the end, you have to step back and do what’s right for this program.”
And there are new challenges on the horizon. There’s the realignment of conferences and the announcement that Pacific-12 Conference partners UCLA and USC are leaving for the Big 10 Conference. The advent of name, image and likeness opens the door for athletes to be paid. Negotiation of tele vision rights for the conference are un derway.
UArizona President Dr. Robert C. Robbins remains confident that Heeke will steer the ship through roiling wa ters.
“Dave Heeke has provided strong, ethical leadership for Arizona Athlet ics,” Robbins said. “His top priority remains the success of our student-ath letes, both on the field and in the class room.
“He is an outstanding partner, and I am thrilled to see the continued imple mentation of Arizona Athletics’ strate gic plan. With Dave’s leadership, Ari zona Athletics will continue to provide distinctive pathways to success for our students, to bring our facilities into the 21st century and to create a world-class experience for our dedicated fans and community members.”
Despite the hiccups of the last couple of years, Heeke has been able to take solace in the 570 student-athletes who have improved on their overall grade point averages in each of the last five years.
“I take great pride in the success of our student-athletes,” he said. “We em phasize academics and cultural perfor mance. And we are going to make sure that the student-athletes do the right things here in the classroom and outside the class.”
Heeke has faced a lot of issues on his long road, 35 years in a career in ath letics administration that began with his sights set on coaching.
The former hockey-playing-turnedbaseball-playing, all-around sports guy thought he’d eventually be guiding young men as a coach.
“I just gravitated that way,” he said. “I thought maybe I’d go coach in baseball or hockey or something.”
Then, life happened. He met his fu ture wife, Liz.
“I didn’t think coaching was exactly where I wanted to go. You could see the time commitment, but I wanted to stay in athletics, so I decided I’d go into the administration side,” Heeke said.
That was shortly after his time at Al bion College, where he got his econom ics degree. He wasn’t into accounting. He wasn’t into sales. He decided on graduate school at The Ohio State Uni versity.
He went from this small liberal arts school to one of the biggest universities in the country, working for the intramural department and parking his car un der Ohio Stadium.
Heeke was a fundraiser at Oregon and cut his chops under four different athletic directors and three different school presidents. He eventually be came second in charge in the athletic department as a senior associate where he rubbed shoulders with people like Nike founder Phil Knight.
“For me to be in that you get to learn so many things,” he said. “I tried to cap italize on every moment. You work hard because when big things happen you can evolve. When you have those op portunities, they just don’t pass you by.”
The next thing Heeke knew, he took a job as the top man at Central Michigan, near home where he still had family.
“It just all kind of came together,” he said. “I went to Central Michigan, where they obviously have a strong pro gram in the MAC and a really good football program. I had a lot of friends and relatives that went to school there. So, it felt right. It was a really good en vironment.”
He and Liz made a commitment to each other that they wouldn’t leave until all three of their children were out of high school.Dr. Robert C. Robbins President University of Arizona
“It was pretty cool,” he said. “Actu ally, it was kind of like ‘whoa.’ ”
After two years “doing a lot of things in the athletic department, I then de cided that’s what I wanted to do – be involved in college life,” he adds.
He still didn’t have a full-time job, though. Then came a bit of motivation.
His father-in-law – while at a dinner – asked Heeke to go outside with him. Heeke recalled his question: “ ‘Can you tell me again how you’re planning to make money on this sports thing?’ That was a signal that I’d better get a job pret ty quick or his daughter wasn’t going to be with me for much longer.”
Suddenly he was on his way to the University of Oregon − for a guy who had “never been west of Chicago.”
“We made it in our Chevy Nova with everything we owned,” he said. “I was thrilled. I had a job and was in. They paid me $13,000, but I was in.”
“We had opportunities, but we weren’t going to transfer them out of high school,” he said. “Family is really important. There’s enough transition in this business and it (sends) you around. I like commitment; I like staying some where and really making a difference and investing in the community and program.”
As Central Michigan athletic director, there were different “pressures and chal lenges.”
“I’m the kind of person who is very much a student-athlete centered ath letic director,” he said. “I was a studentathlete. I understand the model. There is a lot out there to be tapped. You go through the U.S. collegiate sports mod el, see an athlete who is going through it and experiencing the education part as they turn into young adults. It’s super powerful.”
He’s brought that philosophy to Ari zona.
“We’re going to work really hard ev ery day,” he said, “and we will prove through our actions what type of pro gram we have and the things that we can do and how we can add value.”
“Dave Heeke has provided strong, ethical leadership for Arizona Athletics.”
Vision for an ‘Athletics District’
Improvements Could Amount to $1 BillionBy Steve Rivera
Dave Heeke and the University of Arizona have a longterm vision for the future of Arizona Athletics that comes with a huge price tag on facilities – at Arizona Stadium, at McKale Center and for the rest of what’s being called the “athletics district.”
It’ll take patience, planning and, of course, money, which could be nearly $1 billion. An upgrade to Arizona Stadium in the range of $250 million to $300 million was on track before the CO VID-19 pandemic hit more than two years ago. The construction would have had a massive impact on construction jobs, on contractors and for the Tucson economy.
The stadium did get new turf for the upcoming football season – with Ari zona’s signature Block A in the middle of the field – at a cost of about $1.6 mil lion. There also is a fresh coat of paint on the west side of the stadium.
“We’re going to dust off the stadium renovation plans that we had created
prior to COVID,” said Heeke, UArizo na’s VP and director for athletics. “That includes significant modifications to the west side.”
He gave no specifics other than what fans will see during the 2022 football season.
“I can’t really say too much because it’s really coming back to the table, and we’re dissecting a plan that was around it,” Heeke said. “Our effort is just some different options and phases.”
But, he added, UArizona needs to improve the west side grandstand from the ground up which could include ad ditional premium spaces that fans are looking for – a new concourse where there should be ample “support facili ties for our fans,” including more rest rooms, concessions, a gathering space, entrances and exits.
Those will come in time, he said, but his plans go well beyond the stadium.
The $1 billion is tied to an ambitious vision to revamp facilities and infra
structure around the “athletics district” at Campbell Avenue and Sixth Street, highlighted by the Arizona Stadium renovation and additional renovations and expansion of McKale Center. Along with the athletic specific projects, the plan envisions creative public-pri vate partnerships to enhance living and retail options throughout the footprint around the area completely transform ing the entire district.
“McKale has been stretched,” he said. “I’d love to open it up to have con certs again. It is a major facility.”
The multi-year approach for the area includes retail shops, additional housing for student-athletes and the general stu dent population, and perhaps another sports facility.
“It would include both private and public partnerships, university invest ment, inspiring partners to come in from the outside to look at what can be done,” he said.PHOTO: BRENT G. MATHIS
University of Arizona a Leader in Speech, Language & Hearing SciencesBy Rodney Campbell
Hollywood legend Bruce Willis re cently had to step away from acting because of his struggle with aphasia, a condition that causes difficulty in con veying thoughts through speech or writ ing. The person knows what they want to say, but can’t find the words.
Closer to home, one of the linger ing effects of former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’ recovery after an at tempt on her life in 2011 is her battle with aphasia. Giffords wrote in a Wash ington Post editorial in April: “The bul let tore through the left hemisphere of my brain, where the language function sits, leaving profound and lasting dam age in my ability to speak.”
Much of Giffords’ care was coordi nated by alumni from the University of Arizona’s Department of Speech, Lan guage and Hearing Sciences. Under the leadership of Mary Alt, the department works on solutions to issues that many people only know about in personal en counters.
“A lot of people come to know and understand our field when they’ve had a personal experience,” Alt said, “maybe a loved one who had a stroke or has Al zheimer’s or a cousin with autism. We do so much it’s sometimes hard to com prehend.”
Last year, Alt became head of a de partment that has long been a national leader in speech-language pathology and audiology and the sciences that sup port those clinical professions. Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences is part of the School of Mind, Brain and Be havior in the College of Science.
Speech, Language and Hearing Sci ences, which became a department in 1971, places teaching and clinical work
at the top of its mission. Its research work includes labs like the L4 Lab: Language, Learning, Literacy Lexicon; Aphasia Research Project; the Arizona Human Electrophysiology and Audi tory Department (AHEAD) and Tin nitus Project; and WINGSS (Working Investigations of Novel Genes for Song and Speech).
“One of the things that’s always been a strength of our department is our re search,” Alt said. “We’ve been a nation ally ranked top 10 program for 30 years. We’ve had long history of federal fund ing for research.”
Current activity in the department il lustrates the depth of that research.
Aneta Kielar is researching parts of the brain and neural factors that affect language and how they change after a stroke or due to dementia. Kielar, an assistant professor with appointments at the BIO5 Institute and part of the teaching faculty for UArizona’s Gradu ate Interdisciplinary Program in Cog nitive Science, examines how neuro modulation techniques combined with behavioral therapy help people with post-stroke aphasia or with primary progressive aphasia caused by Alzheim er’s disease. She uses neuroimaging to map changes in the brain.
Professor Brad Story, associate dean of the College of Science, and his col leagues seek to understand how typical speech is produced. The team devel oped a computer model that simulates the stages in which spoken sounds or sound combinations are planned, com bined and transformed into the move ments of the structures in the head and the neck used for talking. When this computer model simulates this move
ment, it generates natural-sounding synthetic speech.
Associate Professor Nicole Marrone, the James S. and Dyan Pignatelli/ Unisource Clinical Chair in Audio logic Rehabilitation for Adults, focuses on a project to help underserved and under-researched populations receive treatment for age-related hearing loss. “Building Research Capacity on Hear ing Loss Interventions in Hispanic/ Latinx Communities,” is a collaboration with the University of Miami, Maripo sa Community Health Center and San Juan Bosco Clinic.
Marrone’s work is an example of how Alt and her department have prioritized multiculturalism in their work. Alt en courages researchers to get into the field to learn directly from the people they want to assist, some of whom live along the U.S.-Mexico border.
“There’s often a big gap between what we learn in a lab or research study and how that impacts care in the real world,” Alt said. “What we’ve been learning is if you want the work to make an impact, you can’t just sit in your lab and run your experiments. Researchers need to work with the community.”
While their efforts may not be at the forefront of everyone’s attention, the solutions that the UArizona research ers seek help many people. For example, an estimated 2 million Americans have aphasia and 3 million suffer from Al zheimer’s.
“At some point in their lives, people will come into contact with what we do,” Alt said. “We just want to help peo ple live their fullest lives.”
TRAVELCAROL STEWART VP TECH PARKS ARIZONA FELIPE GARCIA PRESIDENT & CEO VISIT TUCSON
A Northern Welcome
Visit Tucson Annual Meeting Highlights New Travel Between Tucson, CanadaBy Jake O’Rourke
At Visit Tucson’s first in-person annual meeting since the pandemic, reflections on the past few years set the stage for encouraging developments ahead.
Local business leaders filled the Copper Ballroom at Tucson Convention Center this summer for breakfast and speakers who addressed topics including regional tourism efforts, sporting advancements, hotel occupancies, film and television endeavors and especially, welcoming Canadian travelers to The Old Pueblo.
Some key takeaways from the annual meeting:
Visit Tucson has trained more than 100 new certified tourism ambassadors on top of the 100 they already have. These individuals are out in the community advocating for the value of tourism in Tucson while connecting visitors and residents to local businesses.
Graeme Hughes, executive VP for Visit Tucson, said he believes that in addition to the increased efforts of the
CTAs, the return of some of Tucson’s signature events have also aided the city’s tourism recovery. For instance, the 2022 Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase returned at roughly 75% of its average capacity, which “was a huge win this past February and really set the stage for a lot of the other things we are doing,” he said.
The Fort Lowell Shootout at Kino Sport Complex and El Tour de Tucson were other important returning events.
Tucson sporting events recorded 35,000 hotel room reservations during the 2021-22 fiscal year and multi-year agreements are being made to bring consistent sporting events to Tucson’s prime venues to create more sustainable revenue, according to Visit Tucson.
In January, Tucson was rated No. 1 out of 15 competitive cities in the western U.S. in terms of hotel room occupancy, according to Visit Tucson. Regional resorts averaged a daily rate of $300 per room per night during the
month of March--the first time this average has been realized during the history of the resort market in Tucson.
Film Tucson Director Peter Catalanotte attributed recent cinematic success in Tucson to Duster, a new HBO series shot here by director J.J. Abrams. The project was in Tucson for six months, occupied roughly 9,800 hotel rooms throughout the city and hired 700 Tucsonans as either cast or crew, bringing in $10 million to the local economy.
A central focus of the Visit Tucson meeting was the exciting new flights recently announced between Canada and Tucson.
Thanks to the Tucson Airport Authority and Visit Tucson, Canada’s Flair Airlines will soon have a presence at Tucson International Airport. The independent Canadian carrier will offer non-stop, direct flights to Tucson from six cities across the northern border starting Nov. 30.
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“We didn’t get much traction from other cities, and after contacting Visit Tucson, we knew that the whole community in Tucson could get together to support what we are doing,” said Garth Lund, chief commercial officer for Flair Airlines.
Lund, who has worked for Flair for 15 months, has helped the company grow from a fleet of three aircraft flying four routes to now 15 aircraft flying 80 routes. Flair is also soon taking a delivery for an additional three planes.
“It goes to show you that relationships count,” said David Hatfield, TAA’s senior director of air service development. “We want to make it work, and we want to welcome Canadians to Tucson.”
The first flight on Nov. 30 will carry passengers from Edmonton. A winter crew will be stationed in Tucson, and flights are set to continue through March 2023 as the trial run for the new departure cities. Flair hopes to make these flights available year-round to not only promote Canadian travel to the region but, reciprocally, to encourage Tucsonans to travel north during the summer swelter.
F lair is also committed to making its flights more affordable. One-way flights will start around $100, and the plan is to offer flights to Tucson at least once a week, with increasing frequency, between November and March.
Carol Stewart, VP for Tech Parks Arizona and a Canadian citizen, served as one of the panelists at the meeting. She said, “Tucson is invested in welcoming tourists, and that’s very Canadian. To open your doors and commit to people having a great experience and great success in your market is very Canadian.”
Local officials believe that Flair’s new presence here will continue to bolster tourism.
“We need to make sure that these flights are successful, that we are bringing people here and encouraging everyone to go north and explore these beautiful cities we can now access,” said Felipe Garcia, President and CEO, Visit Tucson.
“We need to make sure that these flights are successful, that we are bringing people here and encouraging everyone to go north and explore these beautiful cities we can now access.”
Felipe Garcia President & CEO Visit Tucson
Bigger, Better El Tour de Tucson
Route Tweaks, Cycling Greats
Mark the 2022 RaceBy Valerie Vinyard
As the Banner-University Medicine El Tour de Tucson pre pares for its 39th year, it’s even more noteworthy to consider its charitable impact: more than $100 million raised for local and international charity organizations since 1983.
It’s a crowning achievement for a signature event that draws over 7,000 cyclists to Southern Arizona each year to traverse our rugged, beautiful city.
The milestone, a goal of El Tour organizer Perimeter Bicy cling for many years, was reached after 35 nonprofits raised $5.8 million in 2019. And the economic impact is just as im pressive.
elipe Garcia, president of Visit Tucson, noted that last year, riders and spectators spent over $1 million on restaurants, re tail and transportation here. Thousands of hotel rooms are eady booked for 2022.
“This is an event for destination visitors,” Garcia said. “The tour is just a celebration of Tucson. It brings people from all over the country, and Mexico as well, and some from Canada. They’re staying in our hotels, paying taxes, buying souvenirs, it’s new fresh money coming into our community, everyone in Tucson benefits from it.”
Thanks to executive director TJ Juskiewicz, an esteemed list of cycling greats will participate this year.
continued on page 56 >>>Dr. Sam Keim, Amy Orchard, TJ Juskiewicz, Charlie Bowles Andy Guerrero
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To help attract new riders and spectators, Juskiewicz has created new events, including a Prologue, or sort of VIP ride, before the big day on Nov. 19. He described the event as “a mini camp, if you will.” The Holualoa Companies Prologue will feature 50 riders, including procyclists George Hincapie, Kristin Armstrong and Chris tian Vande Velde among others.
“We’re doing a Prologue for the first time this year,” he said. “It’s really kind of a who’s who in the cycling world. They’re also going to ride the event, which brings a lot of clout.”
“That’s exclusive, it’s just a little extra,” said Juskiewicz, who used his connections to bring them to Tucson. “It brings a little star power to the event. People like seeing these people.”
He said this year’s 102-mile route also has a few tweaks. “Our goal was to get the roads in the best shape as pos sible,” he said.
Other changes include moving the start of the event from Armory Park to the Tucson Convention Center, where the Rio Nuevo tax increment finance district invest ed $65 million for a renovation that resulted in, among many upgrades, new fountains and parking lots.
Tucson Realtor Damion Alexander hasn’t missed an El Tour since 2008. The cyclist shoots photos during the event and estimates he has amassed 50,000 images over the years.
“It’s been a part of my life always,” said Alexander. “The great thing about this year is the route keeps getting better. Roads have improved; the route is just smoother asphalt every year.”
He believes El Tour will continue to attract new riders, especially following the COVID-19 pandemic. Alexander also noted that this year’s event already has 50 nonprofit charitable partners.
“With COVID, people recognize the value of being outside,” he said. “Bikes were the avenue that a lot of people chose during the pandemic. I think we’ll continue to see growth.”
There’s certainly no dearth of positive reviews of the event. As one reviewer wrote on the El Tour website: “Tucson is an incredible city and beautiful location for a large cycling event. El Tour brings together cyclists from all over the world and promotes cycling, personal fitness, and community engagement.”
For people who haven’t participated in El Tour, Alexan der has some advice.
“I would say come out and watch, or even better, vol unteer at an aid station, give out water,” he said. “You’re probably gonna see a friend. It’s a super fun thing that our community has. It’s also a major economic driver; it brings a lot of tax dollars.
“There are so many ways to volunteer. Come out and make your community a better place.”
Garcia also had a suggestion:
“Wear sunscreen,” he said, chuckling. “I got burned.”
“The thing that I love about Tucson is this town is absolutely cycling crazy.”
TJ Juskiewicz Brings New Zeal to El Tour de TucsonBy Valerie Vinyard
For TJ Juskiewicz, taking charge of a large cycling event is, well, like riding a bike.
Tucson-based Perimeter Bicycling Association of America marked a win when it wooed Juskiewicz into accepting the executive director job for El Tour de Tucson in 2020. He is supremely talent ed at anything bicycle-related, especially running major races and infusing new ideas into cycling events.
And he’s even weathered the pan demic that disrupted what’s now a 39year history for El Tour.
“The thing that I love about Tucson is this town is absolutely cycling crazy,” Juskiewicz said. “Everything has been so positive. Even last year, it was tremen dously supported. When we’re up to full speed, I can’t even imagine how big an event this can grow to.”
Juskiewicz moved to Tucson from Iowa, where for 17 years he successfully served as the director of Register’s An nual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, or RAGBRAI, another top U.S. cycling event. According to its website, RAGB RAI is “an epic eight-day rolling festival of bicycles, music, food, camaraderie and community.” RAGBRAI also is the largest, oldest and longest multi-day bi cycle touring event in the world.
Before that, he lived in Florida from 1999 to 2003, where he built up the Bike Florida event to 3,000 riders. He was a coordinator of Bike South 2000, a 2,000-mile, 30-day bicycle tour of six southern states. Juskiewicz also served
as the national president of the Bicycle Tour Network.
El Tour, held in Tucson since 1983, is a major fundraising event in the United States and the longest-running event of its kind in Arizona. Riders range from beginners to serious competitors, but all help nonprofit agencies raise funds for their organizations. So far, the event has raised over $100 million for these chari ties.
“It went really well in my eyes,” said Juskiewicz of his first year helming El Tour. “It was a tough year with the pan demic and all the uncertainty, not just for the participants, but the volunteers and staff, too.”
In 2019, he estimated 5,500 people came to the event. Last year, he added, it was about 6,700. He’s hoping for 10,000 this year. “People are enthused all over the country,” Juskiewicz said. “We’re really reaching out regionally.”
Juskiewicz himself is helping to fuel that enthusiasm, according to El Tour board member Damion Alexander, who credits El Tour’s continuing success to Juskiewicz’s leadership.
“What TJ brought to El Tour is the experience and relationships that he had from RAGBRAI,” said Alexander, a Tucson Realtor and avid cyclist. “He knows everybody in the cycling world. It was completely a testament to his re lationships. He’s doing a phenomenal job.”
Alexander said Juskiewicz’s vision is “something that no one else has.”
“Volunteers came from all over the country,” he said. “They’re not just loyal; people love him. People get the culture. There’s this diverse group of people who maybe never rode in Ari zona, but will because TJ has the rela tionships.”
Alexander said Juskiewicz was a solid replacement for the previous executive director and founder of El Tour, Rich ard DeBernardis, who stepped down after a long tenure.
Juskiewicz wants to make sure riders enjoy themselves during El Tour.
“It’s how you make them feel when you get off the bike, or when they pull into a rest stop,” he said. “Those kinds of things you can elevate.”
Tucson’s overall reputation and mild fall weather also help. “You can come, stay at a great resort, have world-class meals,” Juskiewicz said. “This is an ab solute destination town.”
Juskiewicz is also enjoying all the Tuc son bicycling community offers in addi tion to the heralded El Tour race. He lives in Marana about a mile away from his favorite trail, The Loop — voted USA Today’s Best Recreational Trail in the U.S. for two consecutive years.
“It feels really safe,” he said. “You do some of your best thinking when you’re on the bike, you’re separated from cars, you’re not climbing really much. It’s just so relaxing and such a treasure that we have here. I will take the loop against any bicycling facility in the world.”
Tour de Force
Kathryn Bertine is Women’s Cycling’s Most Ardent AdvocateBy Valerie Vinyard
Longtime cycling advocate and Tuc son resident Kathryn Bertine was excit ed to watch the Tour de France Femmes on TV this year, a multi-day bike race for women finally reinstated after 33 years.
“I’m thrilled for anyone to win this amazing race,” said Bertine, who is a fierce promoter for women’s cy cling. Bertine spends her summers writ ing in New York each year, returning to Tucson in September to operate the Homestretch Foundation, an organiza tion she founded in 2016. Homestretch provides a place for female professional cyclists to live and train rent-free in Tuc son for up to six months.
Bertine has a storied career as an ath lete herself. Prior to her retirement from professional cycling in 2017, she was a professional triathlete and figure skater. She is also the writer, producer and di rector of a documentary film, “Half the Road.”
During a recent phone interview, Bertine was in upstate New York where she was busily writing her fifth book. In 2021, her memoir STAND: A memoir on activism, a manual for progress tells the story of her fight for women’s equal ity at the Tour de France, and won 2021 Indie Book Awards Best Mem oir and Best Social Change. Over the past six years, Homestretch has helped 80 athletes from 17 countries. The house holds up to eight female profes sional cyclists, who must be at least 21 years old. Bertine said that about 60% of its residents are from North America while 40% live elsewhere, such as Afghanistan, Mexico, Australia and South Africa.
“We exist because there is a gen der pay gap in women’s pro cycling,” Bertine said. “When that is equal, we look forward to shutting down.” In the meantime, Bertine raises funds for the Homestretch Foundation via home stretchfoundation.org.
Bertine works hard to make the sport equal for men and women, and her fight to bring back the female version of Tour de France was a long time coming. She noted that at other large events such as the Boston Marathon, Wimbledon or the Olympics, men and women have an equal opportunity to compete. So, in 2009, she began reaching out to the Amaury Sport Organisation, the world leader in bicycle racing and the body that organizes the Tour de France.
In the interim, she gained her first contract in professional cycling and made industry contacts during her ten ure as a senior editor at ESPN. Those contacts helped her to found Le Tour Entier, an activist organization re sponsible for establishing La Course by Tour de France, a race for female pro fessional cyclists that coincided with the conclusion of the annual Tour de France cycling race, which barred wom en since 1989.
In 2013, Bertine started “the big fight,” as she calls it, with ASO, which also organizes a host of other competitive events in golf, running, sail ing and off-roading. She and her Le Tour Entier partners created a petition on Change.org calling for a women’s Tour de France. The drive amassed 98,000 signatures.
In 2014, ASO agreed to a one-day race for women. It was supposed to
be lengthened every year, but it re mained a one-day event until 2022. Ber tine didn’t give up, and eventually her efforts prevailed, culminating in the eight-day Tour de France Femmes.
The event proved very successful, with over 3 million people tuning in to watch the Tour de France Femmes on television. The men’s Tour de France, as a point of comparison, had viewership of around 3.8 million.
“The media problem, however, is (viewers) had to pay a subscription fee to watch the race,” said Bertine of the female Tour. “With men’s racing, it’s broadcast on subscription-free channels. The fact we had over 3 million people watching the Women’s race shows there is a demand.”
While the event was a great success, Bertine said there is much work to be done.
“Because of the exposure we gained from those years, we now have the Tour de Femmes for eight days,” she said. “We believe ASO can do a lot more. They’re not done yet in creating equity for women at the Tour de France.”
She is hopeful change will continue to occur. “If I was able to effect change with a multimillion-dollar company in France, I think that goes to show that anyone can effect change anywhere in the world,” Bertine said.
She added, “This isn’t just about women racing bicycles in France. The whole world moves forward when wom en are equal. There will be a trickledown effect anywhere in the world when women have an equal seat at the table.”
Backing the Bowl
Sponsors, Supporters, Officials Ready to Get Arizona Bowl RelaunchedBy Steve Rivera
Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl officials are champing at the bit for the upcom ing bowl game. No one more than Kym Adair, the bowl’s executive director.
She dreams of business as usual after two years of disruption.
“We’re so excited and so ready to have a typical year,” said Adair, now entering her fourth year as the bowl’s executive director.
The last two years were far from that. In 2020, the game went off without fans in the stadium, thanks to the CO VID-19 disruption. Last year – at the
11th hour – COVID-19 forced Boise State University to withdraw from its scheduled appearance with Central Michigan University, forcing the bowl’s cancellation.
“It’s been a really challenging few years,” Adair said, “having no fans in the stands in 2020, but at least we played. And then having the real ex citement about the 2021 game and all the things we had planned around the game, and then having that be canceled at the last minute was pretty heartbreak ing – deflating, really.”
But, all of that is in the rearview mirror. Football fans in Southern Ari zona should get to see two of college football’s best when the winners of the Mountain West Conference and MidAmerican Conference show up on Dec. 30 at Arizona Stadium.
“We’re just really grateful for the sup port of all of our sponsors and support ers who have helped us,” Adair said. “If we can make it through those challeng ing times and be stronger on the oppo site side here, we’ll be ready for another great game.”
All the game’s sponsors have stuck it out, she said, believing that Southern Arizona is prime real estate in the col lege bowl game market. The Arizona Bowl shows the beautiful landscape and vibrant lifestyle of Tucson and sur rounding areas.
“People know the importance,” Adair said. “A lot of people rolled over their sponsorship, so it would be credited for this year. Others just donated it to us. We’ve been really grateful for all of that support.”
The Arizona Bowl has generated nearly $100 million in economic impact and given more than $4.5 million to lo cal charities over the last eight years, de spite the losses of 2020 and 2021, Adair said.
Through the years the Arizona Bowl has distributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to community nonprofits.
“Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to distribute the money in the way that we had hoped to,” she said. “We just haven’t had any revenue from the last two games to be able to do that. But we are anticipating that we’ll be able to start that up again after the 2022 game.
“With the continued support of our sponsors and ticket holders, we’ll be able to give a significant chunk of money away next spring,” she added, to the tune of “several hundreds of thou sands.”
The usual trappings will return – fin gers crossed – with a full week of pre game fun and postgame festivities book ending the big day.
“We’re excited once again,” Adair said. “With Barstool Sports’ presence and influence, it’s going to be an amaz ing game. We’ve got a lot of fun surpris es planned. And yeah, it’s gonna be as great as it’s ever been.”
She and Arizona Bowl officials are preparing for anything, given what hap pened the last two years.
“I’ve learned to have Plan B and Plan C … to have patience and roll with the punches,” she said. “We have the best community in the country. Honestly, we’ve got the best people helping and supporting us. They have great enthu siasm. Folks have been so disappointed about the challenges we’ve had the last couple of years, but they stuck with us and have given us the motivation
Friday, Dec. 30
Arizona Stadium thearizonabowl.com
to continue to produce the game with great passion. We all want to make sure it goes on for a long, long time.”
So do the conferences involved.
“The Arizona Bowl is an integral part of Mountain West football,” said Commissioner Craig Thompson. “Fol lowing the inception of our partnership with the Tucson community to start the game in 2015, the bowl has quickly de veloped into a popular postseason des tination for our football programs. The Arizona Bowl is essential to our goal of providing high-quality postseason op portunities for our student-athletes.”
“We have enjoyed the opportunity to play in the Arizona Bowl,” said MAC Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher. “Tuc son is a great destination with impres sive athletic and hospitality facilities, in addition to competing with a strong opponent. All make for an exceptional bowl experience for our student-athletes and fans.”BARSTOOL SPORTS ARIZONA BOWL
“We’re just really grateful for the support of all of our sponsors and supporters who have helped us.”
– Kym Adair Executive Director Barstool Sports Arizona BowlPHOTO: BRENT G. MATHIS
A Focus on Tucson
Bourn Companies Specializes in Large-Scale, Mixed-Use ProjectsBy Rodney Campbell
Forgive Don Bourn if he’s feeling a sense of déjà vu.
His Bourn Companies is in the middle of a longterm revitalization of Foothills Mall for the second time. During the first go-round in 1994, the mall was at 12% occupancy. When Bourn sold the property in 1999, Foothills Mall was 95% full.
Now, partly because of the 2015 opening of Tucson Premium Outlets in Marana, Foothills Mall needs reinvention. Bourn Companies reacquired the 750,000-square-foot center in late 2016 and will transform the space with a new vision.
“The redevelopment of the Foothills Mall will have a major impact on the community,” Bourn said. “We have plans to build over 2 million square feet of space to include retail, restaurants and entertainment, hotels, apart ments and townhomes, and corporate and medical office space, as well as open spaces, plazas and trails with a strong health and well ness emphasis.
“We believe it will become a destination and gathering spot.”
The work is part of Bourn’s focus on im proving his adopted hometown. He got his start in Tucson when he moved here in 1986 after graduating from the University of Ne braska. He came to Tucson to work with Trammell Crow, which was the largest real estate development company in the country at the time.
“They had a leasing position open in Tuc son, which was their (market) entry for learn ing the development business,” Bourn said.
Some of Bourn’s development projects were instrumental in revitalizing downtown Tucson. In the early 2000s, then-Mayor Bob Walkup would prod Bourn a couple of times a year to get involved. But not everyone shared Walkup’s vision of a vibrant downtown where people could eat, shop and live.
“Many savvy real estate people cautioned me, but I thought it was an opportunity to
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use our business to help our community,” Bourn said. “It turned out to be extremely challenging, but we are proud to have contributed, along with a number of other devel opers, to the re-birth of our downtown, which is important to our overall community.”
Bourn Companies’ downtown work includes City Park, a 101,000-square-foot transit-oriented mixed-use project that includes dining, entertainment and office and retail space. The project is so appealing that Bourn Compa nies put its home office at the Congress Street site. Bourn worked with Hexagon Mining to place its international headquarters at City Park.
“Bourn was a pleasure to work with,” Hexagon Min ing Division President Nick Hare said. “Don and his team bring a humble, down-to-earth, realistic approach that creates a true business partnership compared to what is typically seen in the industry. We felt like we were working on the same side of the table throughout the project phase and after.”
The final piece of the City Park project will be the re development of The Indian Trading Post, a building origi nally constructed in 1897. Located downtown, the historic landmark will include a blend of office and retail space.
The Bridges at 36th Street and Kino Parkway is another example among the many large-scale, mixed-used proj ects that Bourn has created. Located near UA Tech Parks, The Bridges is home to GEICO’s regional headquarters, a Pima County Joint Technical Education District (JTED) technical education campus, several residential communi ties and a 25-acre park.
“We have evolved our business to execute large, inte grated projects that include multiple uses,” Bourn said. “The deep understanding of the nuances of each of these product types allows us to best serve the needs of our tra ditional corporate office and retail clients with distinct at tention to detail.”
Deep knowledge of the region and its players is key. Matching clients with opportunities for success is a Bourn specialty.
“It is a tremendous advantage to have more than 30 years of experience in Tucson,” he said. “Over three de cades we built a fantastic team and great relationships across important areas of our business, with in-depth knowledge of the market. But we never assume that we know everything because our business is constantly chang ing and we need to be innovative and forward thinking.”
Work never gets old or routine for Bourn and his team. Even after 31 years and more than 4 million square feet of projects, the organization is excited about opportunities to improve Tucson.
“Our current projects are the ones that I am most ex cited about,” Bourn said. “Our ability to create great envi ronments for our clients and our communities continues to get better and better.”
David Allen hired to build and grow TLA.Public-private partnership to build a Tucson Commercialization Network launched be tween TLA, the City of Tucson and Aztera.
First awards event held to recognize UArizona inventors, startups and ecosystem champions.
SinofoníaRx launched to commercialize medication management system.
Doug Hockstad joins TLA to lead licensing and intellectual property team.
TLA negotiates deal with Alcon to license trifocal lens.
“We make a concerted effort to make people feel comfortable – to help them understand our support and provide insight into intellectual property and the opportunities for impact available through commercialization.”
– Douglas Hockstad, Associate VP, Tech Launch Arizona
Tech Launch Arizona Marks a Decade
From UArizona Minds to MarketplaceBy Jay Gonzales
In the not-so-distant past, ground-breaking research conducted on the Univer sity of Arizona campus more often than not was destined for one place – academic journals.
But since 2012, Tech Launch Arizona has pushed open the door to move life-changing technology and inventions
on a path to the consumer market. It’s a turnaround in attitude and operation at UAri zona which has resulted in benefits for multiple constitu ents – for consumers, for the university, for the researchers who devote their lives to their work, and for society.
“When TLA started, it was because university adminis
tration made a conscious de cision to become as good at commercialization as it was at research,” said Associate VP Douglas Hockstad, who has led Tech Launch Arizona since 2018 when he was promoted to replace David Allen, the organization’s first vice president, who answered
UArizona designated National Science Foundation Innovation Corps site.
Commercialization Network project com pletes, and TLA hires Eric Smith as Network Manager
President Robbins arrives at the UArizona UAVenture Capital launched to fund hightech startups affiliated with UArizona.
continued from page 71
university. “We were a top-tier research uni versity, but we weren’t great at getting it out” into the market.
Fast forward to fiscal year 2021. During that year, TLA executed 124 licenses related to in ventions originating from university research, had 100 patents issued, and started 17 new companies. Since TLA began operating, 128 companies have been formed to commercial ize UArizona inventions.
arm. “The sum of it is the faculty and the community were ready, and the new administration came in and said, ‘Here are the keys to the car. You go drive.’
“We laid down the roadmap of where we were going and we just gradually turned around the ship. But it doesn’t turn around quickly.”
Hockstad said faculty at the time were not focused on or trained to think that their work might have monetary value or a potentially huge impact on society.
“It’s true everywhere that as faculty are being trained, as they’re getting their Ph.D.s and they’re doing their ear ly research, they learn to focus on pub lication rather than translation,” Hocks tad said. “What’s drilled into them is to publish to become recognized.”
Beacon of success
Allen and Hockstad engaged local businessman Fletcher McCusker and his lifetime business partner Michael Deitch in the establishment of TLA, and they “scoured” the university for a technology that could become a beacon for what they hoped to achieve. Mc Cusker and Deitch were fresh from the sale of a billion-dollar company they had taken public.
“There was a small group of us who really believed,” McCusker said. “Doug Hockstad was a believer. He saw it hap pen at Michigan. (UArizona President) Bobby Robbins was a believer. He saw it happen at Stanford. Betsy Cantwell was a believer. She knew that you could meet the goals of both research and commer cial activity. That small group of tena cious people just wouldn’t let go of the dog bone, and I think faculty members were won over and they saw the oppor
tunities they created for them.”
The search for a marketable technol ogy uncovered medical software de veloped at the R. Ken Coit College of Pharmacy designed to help insurance payers and physicians track and moni tor prescriptions to mitigate dangerous drug interactions. The technology de veloped by UArizona researcher Kevin Boesen attracted $4 million in invest ment and a company was formed. That company, SinfoníaRx, was sold in 2017 for $130 million.
“I think people were skeptical until they saw our first couple of exits,” Mc Cusker said. “We’ve truly made a dozen or more faculty into millionaires be cause they’ve been able to advance their company.”
Over time, Hockstad said, campus re searchers have come to understand the possibilities of their work. They don’t always have an eye toward commer cialization or a goal of getting rich, he said. But as they see the success stories of fellow faculty members, they become more aware of what TLA can do for them and their inventions.
“I don’t know if there ever was a line in the sand that we crossed” to demon strate what Tech Launch Arizona can do, Hockstad said. “The difference is that when we started, more or less ev eryone that we talked to felt that we had a lot to prove. Now, I would say, the majority feeling on campus isn’t that we have a lot to prove, it’s about how we can help them and work them through the process.”
A marketing team headed by Paul Tumarkin has been instrumental in con veying the message that TLA is there to help.
“We’re making sure that we’re telling the right story internally at the univer sity, that we’re reaching out to faculty and helping them understand what we do and how we can help them,” said Tumarkin, assistant director for market ing and communications. “We survey our inventors every year and the vast majority are happy with the service we provide and would recommend work ing with us to their colleagues. The next phase for us is to ensure that we con tinue to grow the numbers of university innovators engaged in the process and keep evolving our innovation culture.”
Together, Allen and Hockstad built a one-stop shop for faculty members doing research and any UA staffers engaged in innovation that might have a commercial market. One of the key moves was embedding TLA licensing managers in the colleges where intellec tual property – or IP – is produced, such as the colleges of Engineering, Optical Sciences, Medicine, Science, and Life Sciences and Agriculture, said Rakhi Gibbons, director of licensing for TLA.
These specialized team members are physically located in the colleges’ offices and are close advisers to the faculty. They also keep an eye out for work that might have legs in the market.
“The licensing managers, because they’re embedded, usually have a pretty good idea what the faculty and the col lege are working on,” Gibbons said. “They’re there, walking the halls with them. So, we start with a conversation. We sit down with the researcher and we talk about what they’re working on. And then our job is to think about that re
continued from page 73
search and find an application for it that could benefit the public in some way.”
There are many ways that inventions get to market with the help of TLA. After first performing some due dili gence on the invention, the technology can be protected with a patent, copyright or trademark. The rights to the technology can then be licensed to a company – either a startup or an existing company – that will carry on con tinued development and, eventually, produce a product. If a startup is the best path, the inventor will typically take a role in that company, possibly as a leader or as a technology adviser while a more experienced executive
From Computer Engineer to Commercialization
Doug Hockstad Leads Tech Launch Arizona to ProsperityBy Jay Gonzales
There was a point in his professional career when Doug Hockstad, like so many others, was at a crossroads – one path continuing toward his life’s work and the other in a direction still rela tively unknown.
A computer engineer, he had worked in the software industry. He had worked in established companies and a startup. He even had worked overseas.
After what Hockstad called the “dot bomb” of the early 2000s, he left the startup and got his first taste of tech nology transfer. Thanks to his software experience, he was hired to help launch a software licensing program at the Uni versity of Michigan that would help in commercializing inventions from the university.
Then came the crossroads.
“I always assumed it would be a tem porary role. I would do it for a while, then I would eventually go back to in dustry and do what I had been doing,” Hockstad said. “After a couple of years, I had an opportunity to go back to in dustry.
“I realized I had to make a decision whether I was going to continue my ca reer as I had envisioned it all my life or was I going to stay doing this. After a little soul searching I just realized that the decision would set the direction for the rest of my life. I really enjoyed what I was doing and the people I was work ing with, and I chose to stay on and keep doing that.”
A dozen years later, Hockstad found himself at the University of Arizona in a similar role, but in an organization in
“I had been watching Arizona − kind of out of the corner of my eye − for a couple of years,” Hockstad said. “It never made sense to me that Arizona, as a top-tier research institution, was not showing up on the commercialization results that I would expect for that level of institution.”
Tech Launch Arizona was formed under the administration of then-Pres ident Ann Weaver Hart. David Allen was hired to lead the new unit and get the office off the ground to start bring ing UArizona research and technology into the market.
“I reached out (to Allen) and said, ‘I want to understand what you’re doing.’ He reached back out to me and said, ‘you need to apply for this role.’ So I did and that was that. I saw it as an oppor tunity to be a part of something brand new, something that was going to really change, not just the university, but the region.”
It was the beginning of a team that has since made a huge economic impact on the university, the researchers and in ventors on campus, students diving into the tech transfer field, and the overall regional economy.
“Doug’s a remarkable leader,” said Betsy Cantwell, senior VP for research and innovation at UArizona. She heads the Office for Research, Innovation and Impact where TLA reports.
“We got Doug from Michigan, which is a place where they really look at this holistic package and value proposition,” Cantwell said. “Doug and his team try
really hard to measure the investors’ portfolios in the companies we spin out as startups. They work directly with Tech Parks (Arizona) on physical loca tions, making sure we have places in Tucson and in Southern Arizona for our startups. They’re very focused on impact measures that don’t just serve the university.”
“Doug has been an excellent team leader and team builder internally,” said Paul Tumarkin, TLA’s assistant director for marketing and communications. “I think he understands every job in the of fice very well and is a great facilitator in that way. He also is very innovative, and he’s outward-looking and forward-look ing at the possibilities and seeing where we can go next.”
Though TLA was essentially new when Hockstad arrived, he knew that his decision to stay in technology trans fer and to do it at UArizona was the right move. In 2018, Allen retired and Hockstad moved into the leadership role.
In 10 years, TLA has started more than 125 companies, had an economic output in the billions, and has given re searchers and inventors on campus an outlet for their life’s work that barely existed at UArizona prior to TLA’s for mation.
“There was never a time where I thought we can’t do this,” Hockstad said. “There was never a time where I thought this is a bigger bite than I ex pected. We knew what we were getting into, but we also knew what steps we had to take to make it happen.”
The following are companies that Tech Launch Ari zona helped to commercialize inventions created by UArizona faculty and staff. Some already existed and others were startups launched specifically to commercialize UArizona inventions. All have acquired licenses for technologies that they are taking forward.
Year Licensed: 2019 David J. Endicott, CEO Inventor: Jim Schwiegerling
Schwiegerling developed an implantable replacement lens for the eye that allows for mid-range as well as near and far vision and may eliminate the need for glasses or contacts for some. Alcon incorporated the technology into its novel trifocal intraocular lens, PanOptix. Alcon’s PanOptix lenses have now been implanted in over 1 million
Category: Health/Medical Year Licensed: 2017 Jordan Lancaster, CEO Inventors: Steven Goldman, Jordan Lancaster, Jennifer Koevary
A startup company dedicated to advancing tissue-engineered therapeutics to treat dis eases and injuries to human muscle. Avery’s lead product, MyCardia, is a tissue-en gineered heart graft developed to treat heart failure and is currently in the pre-clinical development phase.
Participating Units: College of Medicine − Tucson, BIO5 Institute, Sarver Heart Center averytherapeutics.com
Launching an Innovation Ecosystem
Tech Launch Arizona Posts $1.6 Billion in Economic OutputBy Jay Gonzales
Though its decade at the University of Arizona may only be a blip in the school’s 137-year history, Tech Launch Arizona’s economic impact is already immense.
As the university’s technology transfer arm, TLA’s work to advance intellectual property, patents, licenses, and startups – and the resulting impact on the re gion’s economy in the form of metrics like jobs and tax revenues – are making it a key component to developing what Betsy Cantwell calls an “innovation eco system” for the region and beyond.
“I’m absolutely convinced we will de velop more and more startups here in the region, some of which will become unicorn powerhouse companies,” said Cantwell, senior VP for research, inno vation, and impact at UArizona, where TLA reports in the campus organiza tion structure.
A study of TLA for the five years from July 2016 through June 2021 de termined that its work had generated $1.6 billion in economic output. The figure includes about $561 million in la bor income, $59 million in tax revenues and more than 2,500 jobs supported.
The future is even brighter, the study indicates. Over the next 10 years, TLA is projected to generate another $4.7 billion in economic output, $1.6 billion in labor income and $172 million in tax revenues.
In the 10 years TLA has operated, there have been more than 125 startup companies formed, more than 490 li censes signed, and more than 500 pat ents issued to protect university research and technology, clearly establishing it as a driver of the overall economic devel opment of the region.
“Harvard, Stanford and other places have been at this for 50, 60, 70 years,” said UArizona President Dr. Robert C. Robbins. “It’s part of our mission to de velop new companies in the region, new job opportunities, to help the economy of Southern Arizona and to also give our students opportunities to stay here.”
The general nature of the research being commercialized through TLA means that it is actually in its infancy when it comes to having massive re gional economic impact, said Associate VP Doug Hockstad, who joined TLA in 2013 and was promoted to head the of fice in 2018 when the original VP, Dave Allen, retired.
Many of the inventions, particularly new therapeutic drugs and other inven
tions in the life sciences, take years to get the approvals needed to go to market. They also require venture capital – an area where TLA also has an economic impact by attracting investment from inside and outside Arizona.
“We strongly feel the more that we grow this region, the more small com panies, medium companies and large companies that we have, the more in vestment we’ll see coming in,” Hocks tad said. “There will be more reasons for companies to stay here, and perhaps more importantly, more reasons for graduates to stay.
“The old adage is, ‘Go to the coast to find the money.’ They won’t have to do that because it’s going to be here. We’re starting to see that more. We have at least a half dozen venture funds in Ari zona now.”
One of those is UAVenture Capital, a fund started by local businessmen Fletcher McCusker and longtime busi ness partner Michael Deitch specifically to fund startups associated with the uni versity and usually launched through TLA. The idea to establish the fund was pressed by Robbins when he took the president’s job in 2017. McCusker had just engineered a $130 million sale of a company, SinfoníaRx, that was borne from a University of Arizona innovation.
Robbins “kind of nonchalantly asked me, ‘Can you do it again?’ I go, ‘Yeah.’ He says, ‘No, can you do it again and again and again.’ He said we need a fund, some risk capital to help these startup companies get off campus,” Mc Cusker recalled.
UAVenture Capital has invested $30 million into 11 companies that have
“I’m absolutely convinced we will develop more and more startups here in the region, some of which will become unicorn powerhouse companies.”
Betsy Cantwell Senior VP, Research, Innovation & Impact University of Arizona
emanated from the university, McCusk er said.
Cantwell sees all of this as the start of the innovation ecosystem.
She spent a portion of her educa tional and professional life in northern California, where she witnessed the de velopment of Silicon Valley as a poster child for an innovation ecosystem. She holds a doctorate in mechanical engi neering from the University of Califor nia, Berkeley. She worked in a technol ogy firm in the area and she also studied how Silicon Valley developed.
“When it started it was nothing,” Cantwell said. “Stanford was nearby, but that area did not even have silicon until Fairchild Semiconductor started there. There was a NASA base and a university.”
For the Tucson region to continue to establish itself as an ecosystem, Cantwell said, organizations and inter ests from all sectors, public and private, must contribute. The work done at TLA demonstrates that all things are possible.
“First, you’ve got to have the ideas. Then you’ve got to have the support
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Codelucida Category: Computers/Software
Year Licensed: 2014 Shiva Planjery, CEO Inventors: Shiva Planjery, Bane Vacic, David Declercq
Codelucida empowers the future of data storage with enhanced speed, reliability, and lower power usage. Codelucida develops software that enables flash-memory-based devices to have higher capacities, higher reliability, and faster speeds using less power at lower costs. These ulti mately improve the efficiency and reliability of data centers, servers, and mission-critical storage that incorporate flash memories.
Participating Unit: College of Engineering codelucida.com
eSight Category: Optics/Health
Year Licensed: 2019 Brian Beardsley, CEO Inventors: Hong Hua, Jason Kuhn
To help the legally blind and those with low vision to function in daily life, Hua and Kuhn invented a wedge-shaped prism eyepiece design that provides both high resolution and a large exit pupil. The technology, which offers an image quality that has not been previously achieved, was licensed to eSight Corporation for its eSight 3 product.
Participating Unit: James C. Wyant College of Optical Sciences esighteyewear.com
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FreeFall Aerospace Category: Aerospace Year Licensed: 2018 Doug Stetson, CoFounder, President & CEO Inventors: Chris Walker, Ira Smith
FreeFall’s revolutionary intelligent antenna system will enable the 5G Era. FreeFall’s unique 3-dimensional phased array antenna can provide high data rate communication at virtually any frequency at a fraction of the size and cost of any existing solution.
Participating Unit: College of Science
Category: Education Year Licensed: 2014 William McCallum, CEO
Inventors: William McCallum, Cody Patterson, Ellen Whitesides
Illustrative Mathematics is a not-for-profit company that provides com mon-core compatible lesson plans for K-12 math courses. With carefully crafted lesson plans and tasks, math concepts are taught intuitively. Additional supporting materials are provided online for teachers and industry professionals.
Participating Unit: College of Science
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system that Doug’s unit (TLA) provides to perfect patents, create the IP,” she said. “You’ve got to have an ecosystem within the university that allows them to get started. You’ve got to bring funders to the table early. They’ve got be able to find rea sonably inexpensive labor. They’ve got to have places to go. They’ve got to have sup port services for startup companies. And they’ve got to have the right regulatory and legal environment.”
Some of those pieces are already work ing within UArizona.
TLA has a strong partnership with the university’s Tech Parks Arizona, even moving into the new building known as The Refinery at the Tech Parks at the Bridges where both units can work in close proximity. Tech Parks provides space and facilities for startups to get their businesses going in an environment where they can still be close to the university where many of the technologies are developed.
Tech Parks has 83 startup companies operating through its University of Arizo na Center for Innovation, the university’s affiliated startup incubator.
“It’s really key that we’re in lockstep with Tech Launch Arizona and the entire ecosystem,” said Carol Stewart, VP of Tech Parks Arizona. “I think people are figuring it out. They’re watching us and they’re like, ‘There is something pretty grand going on.’ ”
Over the long haul, Hockstad said, the type of ecosystem developing with organi zations like TLA and Tech Parks and with full support of one of the region’s largest entities and employers, the university can feed on itself by keeping students and re searchers within the region as a founda tion for the economy, even if not all the newly formed companies succeed.
“One of the things that I believe is that if we can create an ecosystem here where graduates can go right to a company or can feel comfortable going into a startup, that’s to everyone’s benefit because even if that startup fails, there’s another startup company or medium-sized or large com pany that they can go to. We get to retain a lot of our incredibly intelligent students,” Hockstad said, “and then we create an ecosystem that kind of feeds on itself as companies launch and/or fail and/or succeed.”
Year Licensed: 2015
Jack Alton, CEO
Inventors: Joseph Valacich, Jeffrey Jenkins
In a face-to-face interaction, you evaluate how a person answers a question, not just what they say. Their tone of voice and their body language provide you with additional signals about the quality of the response and their state of mind. Neu ro-ID’s technology enhances online forms by revealing how questions are answered, not just what the answer is. In other words, the company enables its customers to read the digital body language of those interacting with their online forms.
Participating Unit: Eller College of Management neuro-id.com
Category: Computer Science
Year Licensed: 2017
Kevin McLaughlin, CEO
Inventors: Gustave Von Hahn-Powell, Mihai Surdeanu, Marco Valenzuela
LUM.AI focuses on mitigating the innovation slowdown caused by information overload. The company applies natural language processing technology to augment R&D investments by distilling libraries of unstructured text and revealing mechanisms that matter.
Participating Unit: College of Science lum.ai
Category: Health/Medical Year Licensed: 2021
Robert Diaz Brinton, Founder and President
Inventors: Roberta Diaz Brinton, Kathleen Rodgers, Yu Jin Kim, Heidi Mansour
NeuTherapeutics is developing a new therapy for Alzheimer’s disease designed to restore cognitive function in early-stage patients. The therapy is now proceeding through a Phase 2b clinical trial. The team found that the neurosteroid allo pregnanolone, or allo, used to treat women with postpartum depression, promotes connectivity between neural networks required for cognitive function by generating new neurons and synapses in patients with the early stages of the disease.
Participating Units: College of Medicine − Tucson, Col lege of Pharmacy, UA Center for Innovation in Brain Science, BIO5 Institute www.neutherapeutics.com
Year Licensed: 2017
John Xin, Co-Founder and CEO
Inventors: Hao Xin, Shufang Su, Min Liang, Siyang Cao
Lunewave develops cutting-edge antenna and sensor technology for wireless communications and autono mous vehicle applications. The company has developed t wo products, including an automotive radar sensing system and a high-speed antenna originally invented at the University of Arizona.
Participating Unit: College of Engineering www.lunewave.com
Year Licensed: 2018
Rajesh Khanna, Chief Scientific Officer
Inventors: Rajesh Khanna, May Khanna, Vijay Gokhale, Reena Chawla, Erik Dustrude, Todd Vanderah
Regulonix is developing a non-opioid-based compound for chronic pain reduction. The team observed a synergistic effect when the compound was combined with morphine or gabapentin, a promising sign that the compound could also be used in a dose-reduction strategy for painkillers that have negative side effects, including opioids, while maintaining high levels of pain relief.
Participating Units: College of Pharmacy, College of Medicine − Tucson, BIO5 Institute, UArizona Health Sciences, UArizona Cancer Center www.regulonix.com
Category: Agriculture/Life Sciences
Year Licensed: 2021
Bibiana Law, CEO
Inventors: Sadhana Ravishankar, Govindaraj Dev Kumar, Lubin Zhu, Bibiana Law
PhytoCentric Solutions has developed proprietary natu ral antimicrobial products for consumer applications. The star tup also provides testing services to the food industry.
Participating Units: College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, BIO5 Institute
Year Licensed: 2020
Manny Teran, CEO
Inventors: Sairam Parthasarathy, Marvin Slepian
SaiOx was founded to bring the benefits of heliox – a mixture of helium and oxygen – to those experiencing difficulty breathing. Heliox is less dense than air, thereby decreasing airflow resistance and allowing patients to breathe easier. This new respiratory assist device is small and portable, making it ideal for use in any setting, from intensive care units to the home.
Participating Units: College of Medicine − Tucson, College of Engineering, BIO5 Institute saiox.webflow.io
Year Licensed: 2019
Inventors: Klearchos Papas, Robert Johnson, Steven Neuenfeldt
Procyon provides an implantable chamber fabricated from biocompatible synthetic membranes designed to hold allogeneic cells and protect them from immune rejection. Such cell therapy devices are designed to im prove cellular viability and function through the delivery of oxygen. The same devices are suitable for holding sensors or acting as a subcutaneous drug delivery system.
Participating Units: College of Medicine − Tucson, BIO5 Institute procyon-technologies.com
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Moving Tech to Market
Firms Illustrate TLA Commitment to InnovationBy Jay Gonzales
For 10 years, Tech Launch Arizona has paved the way for inventions de veloped at the University of Arizona to make their way into the commercial markets either by way of existing com panies who have licensed the technolo gies, or by way of startup companies founded to commercialize specific in ventions. TLA’s work has resulted in the formation of over 125 of those startups since 2012.
The following three companies are examples of the commitment TLA and the university have made to commer cialize technologies developed around campus
Reglagene is developing an effica cious, safe and orally administered brain cancer therapy. The therapy is designed to treat a wide variety of can cers, including glioblastoma, the dead liest brain cancer, and brain metastases resulting from breast and lung cancers – the two cancers most likely to metasta size into the brain, said Reglagene CEO Richard Austin.
“The innovation of new and better therapies for the treatment of brain tu mors has been slow,” Austin said. “Af ter the first diagnosis of a brain tumor, most patients live less than a year.”
TLA matched Austin, who has a Ph.D. in organic chemistry and an MBA in pharmaceutical management, with one of the technology’s inventors, Laurence Hurley, who holds a Ph.D. in medicinal chemistry. They and univer sity researcher Vijay Gokhale founded Reglagene in 2018 to continue develop
ment of brain cancer therapies original ly discovered in the R.K. Coit College of Pharmacy and the BIO5 Institute with TLA’s support. Hurley is now the company’s CSO and Gokhale is VP of discovery.
“TLA played a crucial role in Regla gene’s founding,” Austin said. “TLA continued to support the company as we became operational, including mentorship, business coaching, grant-
writing training, pitch training, and or ganizing pitch opportunities in front of investors.”
The company remains based in Tuc son, opening the door for opportunities to contribute to the overall economic development of the region.
“These businesses (launched by TLA) provide primary jobs that often are the reason many UArizona grads can stay in Tucson,” Austin said. “Due to the wealth of new technology coming out of UArizona, TLA is positioned to have an even greater impact in the future through even more company forma tions, especially as the talent base of experienced technology entrepreneurs grows in our region.”
Auxilium Technology Group
Arizona residents are likely familiar with the ever-present mine tailings – the massive piles of waste materials that are a byproduct of the mining industry, which historically has been one of the region’s largest economic drivers.
A solution developed at UArizona and trademarked as Entail is a highly efficient extraction process aimed at pulling out useful materials from what has otherwise been treated as waste to minimize the environmental impact of the tailings.
“Auxilium’s mission is to be the benchmark and ignite a sustainable tail ing repurposing industry on a global scale,” said one of the inventors, Moe Momayez, a professor and interim de partment head in the Mining and Geo logical Engineering Department in the
“TLA has been instrumental in identifying new inventions, assessing the commercial viability of new technologies and building a strong, engaged network of commercialization partners.”
Moe Momayez Interim Head UArizona Mining and Geological Engineering Department
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UArizona College of Engineering.
“Mining companies use our solutions to minimize the environmental impact of mine tailings while achieving net-ze ro emission and decarbonization goals,” Momayez said.
He added that TLA helped in the for mation of the company through men toring, access to technology and other programs.
“Auxilium is constantly working with TLA on not only exploring the com mercial opportunities of new technolo gies, but also leveraging TLA’s exten sive network to foster company growth plans,” Momayez said.
Auxilium was one of two companies selected by BHP, an Australian mining company that is one of the largest in the world, to develop solutions to maximize the value of waste while minimizing the environmental impact.
“The mining sector is a significant contributor to the economy of the state of Arizona with an estimated total eco nomic impact of more than $6.5 bil lion,” Momayez said. “TLA has been instrumental in identifying new inven tions, assessing the commercial viabil ity of new technologies and building a strong, engaged network of commer cialization partners.”
With all the knowledge and innova tion on the UArizona campus fueling the development of life-changing tech nology, there emerged a basic need that UArizona President Robert C. Robbins identified when he arrived on campus in 2017 – investment capital.
Almost as soon as he arrived, Robbins challenged businessman Fletcher Mc Cusker to develop a source of venture capital funding for the technologies that Tech Launch Arizona was working to commercialize.
“He said we needed a fund, some risk capital to help these startup companies come off campus,” McCusker said.
His answer was to establish UAVen ture Capital specifically to support the companies and technologies moving to ward commercialization with assistance from Tech Launch Arizona.
TLA Associate VP Doug Hockstad
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Science of Sport
Year Licensed: 2014 Ricardo Valerdi, Chief Scientist, Founder Inventor: Ricardo Valerdi
Science of Sport is a not-for-profit company developing sports-baseSTEM curriculum for K-12 students and teachers. Through partnerships with professional sports teams, Science of Sport provides camps to en gage students as they learn how STEM subjects find real-world appli cations in sports, with a particular focus on disadvantaged and underser ved communities.
Participating Unit: College of Engineering sciencesport.org
SinfoníaRx Category: Health/Medical/Software
Year Licensed: 2014
Kevin Boesen, Founder Inventors: Kevin Boesen, Kevin Barber, Rose Martin, Nicole Scovis, Jason Red dick, James Kloster, Ann Kerschen, Martin Pelger, Matthew Smith, David Armena Amaya
SinfoníaRx technology is a medication therapy management software for Medicare, Medicaid, MMP, exchanges and commercially insured patients. Every time a patient fills a prescription, their medication pro file is reviewed for potential medication related problems. The company uses targeted outreach to address need areas including safety concerns, adherence to national consensus treatment guidelines, adherence to prescribed medication regimens, and cost savings opportunities. The company was acquired by Tabula Rasa Healthcare Inc. in 2017.
Participating Unit: College of Pharmacy sinfoniarx.com
joined Canyon Community Bank as Trea has been in banking for 19 years with a focus on business banking, branch management and Treasury Banking Services. She is key to the growth of the bank in establishing strong business relationships. Hol guin is a member of the Oro Valley Chamber of Commerce.
y McGuire joined Canyon Community Bank as VP/ commercial loan officer, with an emphasis on commercial real estate. McGuire has been in banking for 22 years, with experience ranging from retail banking, private client servic rcial real estate banking. He is a certified com mercial investment member, graduating from the CCIM In stitute, and currently serves as president of CCIM’s Tucson chapter.
Barker Contracting Project Director Riley Rasmussen was selected as one of 20 Top Young Professionals by Engineer ing News Record, Southwest Contractor. The award honors individuals under 40 in ENR’s 10 regions who have shown exceptional leadership and service throughout their careers. As Barker’s project director, Rasmussen guides the man agement and quality of project work done in the Arizona market.
Our second annual Women Leading the Region issue spotlights 15 stellar individuals whose contributions to aca demia, athletics, banking, bioscience, cuisine, education, healthcare, public service, real estate and technology are truly advancing our region.By Tara Kirkpatrick
From driving life-changing university research to helming a century-old icon ic restaurant chain to leading Tucson’s major hospitals and many other critical roles, these incredible women elevate Southern Arizona as they lead with vi sion, dedication and humility.
We are honored to share their stories and accomplishments.
Our sincere gratitude to Gadabout SalonSpas, who provided hair and makeup services for the honorees, as well as photographer Chris Mooney for his outstanding pictures.
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Managing Director BlueStone Venture PartnersBy David Pittman
Mara Aspinall is a biotech industry executive and healthcare trail blazer who is passionate about educating the community on the im portance of diagnostics, genomics and personalized medicine.
Aspinall is managing director of BlueStone Venture Partners and the former president and CEO of Ventana Medical Systems, now Roche Tissue Diagnostics, a global leader in development and com mercialization of tissue-based cancer diagnostics. During her tenure, Aspinall helped increase market share and global growth.
She spent 12 years as president of Genzyme Genetics and Gen zyme Pharmaceuticals, where she helped set an industry standard for quality, while growing the firm at unprecedented rates. The business was sold to LabCorp for $1 billion.
“I love strategic and operational challenges and working with great people because it enables me to learn and improve,” Aspinall said. “I have the privilege and responsibility of working in an industry that is all about people’s health; and it’s not just about individual health, but also impacts community wellness and population health.”
She is proud to lead BlueStone in Tucson because “it gives us the chance to invest in the next generation of healthcare and life sci ence technology companies. Three of our companies are based in Arizona.”
Aspinall co-founded the School of Biomedical Diagnostics at Arizona State University, the first school dedicated to diagnos tics as an independent discipline. The school awarded its first master’s degrees in 2014 and has almost 100 students in the program this year.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Aspinall emerged as a national expert on COVID testing and served as an advisor to The Rockefeller Foundation. She co-authored the founda tion’s national reports on public health policy.
Aspinall is a board member of Abcam, Castle Biosci ences, OraSure, Pyx Health and Blue Cross Blue Shield Arizona; and co-chairs the Arizona Biosciences Board, a CEO group that encourages venture capital for inno vation-based technology companies. She also serves on the boards of Sun Corridor Inc. and Southern Arizona Leadership Council.
“Mara is a true force,” said SALC President and CEO Ted Maxwell. “Her expertise, commitment and engage ment in any endeavor she takes on always results in im provement and impact. Whether it has been her business, education, community or scientific ventures, she has a track record of incredible success. Mara makes everyone around her better.”
Aspinall was named Arizona Biosciences Leader of the Year in 2016 and one of the “100 Most Inspiring People in Life Sciences” by PharmaVOICE magazine. She has an MBA from Harvard and a bachelor’s degree in international relations from Tufts University.PHOTO BY CHRIS MOONEY
ERIKA BARNESBy Tara Kirkpatrick
The first sentence of Erika Barnes’ bio says it all.
“Arizona Athletics prides itself in developing Wildcats for Life, and Erika Hanson Barnes is the epitome of that mission,” her pro file reads on University of Arizona’s website.
Yet, the Arizona national softball champion turned executive senior associate director of athletics is the last to herald herself. Instead, she prefers the sage advice of her former coach, Mike Candrea. “You put your team first and the individual accolades come later.”
Since joining Arizona Athletics in 2005, Barnes has served the Wildcats in many capacities, including oversight of all aspects of fundraising efforts and alumni letterwinners, sports administration and the C.A.T.S. student-athlete support services. When former AD Greg Byrne departed in 2017, Barnes was tapped as interim AD.
The mother of two—she married Arizona letterwinner and PGA Tour caddie Andy Barnes – has been an integral part of six capital campaigns totaling $250 million, including Richard Jeffer son Gymnasium, Lowell-Stevens Football Facility, Mike Candrea Field at Rita Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium and the McKale Center renovation.
“She is a Wildcat through and through,” agreed Arizona AD Dave Heeke. “As a former student-athlete here and a long-term member of the administrative team, Erika bleeds red and blue. Her role is truly a key element to ensure that University of Ari zona student-athletes have a first-class experience, which has de fined our athletics program for decades.”
Bar nes was part of Arizona’s 2001 national championship team before graduating in communications with a minor in American Sign Language. “As players, we would do a lot of volunteer work with the Arizona School for the Deaf and Blind and we had a few fans who were deaf,” she said. “I thought it was really important to communicate with them on game days...” Barnes earned her MBA from the Eller College of Management in 2010.
She is truly a welcoming presence at all Wildcat sports. Barnes serves on the Pac-12 Council, which governs con ference policies. She oversees all fundraising for the Wild cat Club, she is the designated Senior Woman Administra tor for Arizona Athletics and just finished a four-year term on the NCAA Softball Selection Committee. She also is a member of the board of directors for Ben’s Bells, a nonprofit with a mission to spread kindness. For Barnes, it’s a fitting example of her character.
“Having integrity and playing by the rules” are key to leadership, she said. “And the golden rule – treating everyone like you would like to be treated. Athletics is a service industry and we are servant leaders.”Executive Senior Associate Director of Athletics,SWA University of Arizona
ELIZABETH CANTWELLBy Tara Kirkpatrick
To be true to herself, Elizabeth “Betsy” Cantwell walked away from graduate school at Stanford University.
The University of Chicago graduate, with a bachelor’s degree in human behavior, walked into an orientation for the school’s social work program and knew it felt wrong. She left the school, followed her intuition and pursued an illustrious career in science, business and engineering.
“No matter what you major in in college, it doesn’t define you,” said Cantwell, senior VP for research and innovation at the Uni versity of Arizona. “So many of our students are so anxious about getting it right early in life, when you may not know what is right.
“I loved science fiction,” she said. “I was motivated by space. The idea of going into a power plant and looking around was thrilling to me.” Cantwell went to community college to get her math and science prerequisites and set off on a career path that today advances UArizona and its tremendous research community.
Cantwell, who holds an MBA and doctorate in mechanical en gineering, has worked in leadership at the nation’s most prominent labs and institutions, including the Los Alamos National Labora tory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, NASA headquarters and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. At the latter, she was part of the team, after 9/11, that helped stand up the U.S. Depart ment of Homeland Security.
At UArizona, she is responsible for expanding the university’s capacity for knowledge creation and discovery and oversees inno vation across campus. This includes the 1,267-acre UA Tech Park, home to more than 100 businesses including startups, IBM and Raytheon Technologies and contributes $2 billion annually to the region.
“Dr. Cantwell is a tremendous leader,” said UArizona Presi dent Dr. Robert C. Robbins. “Thanks to her knowledge and experience in creating the conditions for long-term research success, she is taking our research enterprise to new heights.
This includes measures of current activity such as research expenditures, which are approaching $800 million under her watch...I am extremely glad she brought her talents to Tucson.”
Cantwell recently helped spearhead, along with digi tal marketing specialist Rocque Perez, the inaugural Women of Impact awards at UArizona, which hon ored 30 women in August whose work addresses society’s biggest challenges.
“We have truly remarkable researchers here,” Cantwell said. “The best of the best. The environ ment we have created here, it’s a moonshot cul ture. The really hard, low-probability big ideas are permissible to think about and talk about at this university. I love it and I revel in it.”Senior VP for Research and Innovation University of Arizona PHOTO BY CHRIS MOONEY
CEO Tucson Medical CenterBy Tara Kirkpatrick
If you want to walk in Mimi Coomler’s shoes, start with the hall ways of Tucson Medical Center.
The CEO of the top hospital in metro Tucson, as ranked by U.S. News & World Report, has walked every single one.
“The people who are in the room with the patient...my respon sibility is to serve them and ultimately, the patient,” said Coomler, who was named to the top job in October 2021. “You can’t do that from an office, you have to be out and in the environment. That’s an important part of making good decisions in health care.”
With more than 20 years as a nurse, including at a Pennsylva nia wilderness camp for adjudicated kids, Coomler served TMC in several capacities before being named CEO. She was women and children patient care services director, VP and chief nursing officer, and senior VP and COO. She was also manager of critical care at Sierra Vista Regional Health Center and COO and CEO of Children’s Clinics for Rehabilitative Services.
“We are so grateful to have Mimi as CEO of Tucson Medical Center,” said Judy Rich, president and CEO of TMC Health. “Her ability to show compassion, respect and empathy, even dur ing difficult times, makes her a strong leader for our community hospital. She is courageous and confident, and truly cares about our staff, our patients and our community.”
Coomler credits experiences early on in her career that shaped her. When she first came to Arizona, she worked in a rural area, often relying on hospitals like TMC for patients needing a higher level of care. Now, she is on the other end of that continuum at TMC providing essential care to acutely ill patients from through out the state.
“It’s the local aspect of this organization, we are excited to serve the community of Tucson and Southern Arizona,” she said. “When we have to make decisions here, we have a local board of trustees that guides our strategy.”
That was especially helpful when it came to TMC’s COV ID-19 leadership in both overall care and vaccination dis tribution. “We filled a need for our community in a really profound way,” Coomler said. “We recognized that we were the local hospital and could mobilize quickly.”
Now as CEO, she is devoted to keeping the pa tient as her top concern.
“My work is to actively seek ways to improve care and the right decision will always be one where the patient is at the center.”
President and CEO Pima FoundationBy Tara Kirkpatrick
She may call herself “just a girl from Montana,” but Marcy Euler is a force helping to fuel Pima Community College into a valuable workforce driver for the region.
As president and CEO of Pima Foundation, the mother of two helps steward funds given to PCC to modernize facilities, augment student resources and invest into its academic and economic capa bilities. Of late, that includes the largest gift in PCC’s history–$2.5 million for its Center of Excellence in Applied Technology from the Thomas R. Brown Family Foundation and a $5 million chal lenge grant from the Connie Hillman Family Foundation.
“I love Tucson,” said Euler. “Since the moment I got off the plane for an interview when I was fresh out of graduate school, I knew I could live here forever. This community is deserving of greatness and I want Pima Foundation and PCC to be part of posi tively impacting the region for decades to come.”
Euler loves many things about her job: “the people and rela tionships we have developed with donors who care deeply about our mission, students who are enormously grateful for the finan cial benefit they receive from scholarships; faculty who are able to expand program offerings that support business and industry labor needs; Pima Foundation board members who are wonderful ambassadors for our work; and my colleagues at Pima Community College, including Chancellor (Lee) Lambert, who are true part ners with the foundation team.”
“Marcy as leader of Pima Foundation has made an incredible contribution to Pima Community College’s mission,” said Lambert. “Not only is she great with people, but she’s very proactive, organized and student-centered. We are fortunate to have her on our team.”
PCC has seen great progress these past few years, includ ing a $15 million expansion of its Aviation Technology Center and a new, state-of-the-art Automotive Technology and Innovation Center near downtown.
Euler has a bachelor’s degree from Montana State Uni versity and a master’s degree from Bowling Green State University. Before joining Pima Foundation in 2018, she worked for the University of Arizona for more than 10 years and she was executive director of the Tucson Festi val of Books from 2012 to 2017.
“I think the most important leadership quality is in tegrity – both personally and professionally,” she said. “To me, integrity encompasses many different charac teristics. It’s paying attention by listening intently, being trustworthy and extending trust to others. Integrity is an expectation in Pima Foundation’s culture where we value each individual and their diverse perspectives.”PHOTO BY CHRIS MOONEY
Owner Flores ConceptsBy Rodney Campbell
Operating the nation’s longest-running, family-owned Mexican restaurant is more than a point of pride for matriarch Carlotta Flores.
The chef and owner of Flores Concepts and Si Charro! restau rants is continuing the legacy of the original El Charro, which was started by her great aunt, “Tia” Monica Flin, in 1922 and is poised to celebrate a century in business.
Flores is a true culinary icon who was named one of Forbes’ 2021 50 over 50 Women and was featured recently on two nation ally syndicated shows: Taste of the Border on Discovery + net work, and the 2022 Top Chef: Houston.
“I feel blessed,” Flores said. “El Charro holds so many memo ries, celebrations, family gatherings, first dates, first jobs. Being able to witness so many milestone events and to play such an important part of not only feeding the stomach but, at times, the soul, is some thing we don’t take for granted.”
F lores and her team have since opened Charro Steak & Del Rey, Charro Vida, Barrio Charro and The Monica. Her five grandchil dren inspired her to branch out beyond traditional El Charro fare.
“They are true foodies and their tastes and dietary needs along with incredible culinary talent like Chef Jenn (Dering) at Charro Vida and Chef Gary (Hickey) at Charro Steak & Del Rey and the vision of my son, Ray, we knew this was what Tucson and our brand was hungry for,” Flores said. “Our community has em braced the new concepts and, for me, it is exciting to do new things at this stage in life.”
James Beard Award Winner Don Guerra, owner and baker at Barrio Bread, teamed with Flores to open Barrio Charro in 2021 –a pairing of two acclaimed creators whose eateries are certified by the UNESCO City of Gastronomy.
“She has been a steadfast pioneer in so many ways,” Guerra said. “As a woman leading one of Arizona’s iconic restaurants, as a Latina chef putting Sonoran cuisine on the map and as a member of the commu nity who never fails to come through for a family in need.”
Flores has more than 400 employees working at her family’s restaurants, airport cafes and catering operations.
“Next to motherhood, this is my greatest respon sibility, not only to honor my Tia Monica’s tremen dous legacy, but to provide opportunities for growth for my team, a legacy for my grandchildren, and for my community that has been so gracious and enveloping of our history and our food,” she said.
Banner-University Medical Center Tucson Banner-University Medical Center SouthBy Rodney Campbell SARAH FROST
The woman who promoted Sarah Frost to COO at what was then University of Arizona Medical Center saw many things in her col league that warranted the life-changing move.
Karen Mlawsky, then the CEO at UAMC, pegged Frost as a per son who could eventually lead Banner Health’s two hospitals and approximately 7,000 employees. Frost went on to become CEO at Banner-UMC Tucson and Banner UMC-South in 2018.
“Sarah leads from her heart and her head,” said Mlawsky, now the COO at Watermark Retirement Communities. “She has unques tionable integrity and will do the right thing regardless. Her associ ates and patients are her priority. Sarah is known to be a straight shooter who cuts through the ‘noise’ quickly to get to the point.”
Frost has spent the better part of two decades at the Banner facili ties, giving her the opportunity to see and effect growth and progress, including the $443 million, nine-story tower that opened in 2019.
Everything she does as CEO and the suggestions that her team gives are aimed at improving the patient experience.
“I value transparency and honest communication, and I work ev ery day to ensure that my teams have what they need to care for our patients,” Frost said. “I appreciate feedback, no matter how big or small the issue, because it provides us an opportunity to do better.”
It’s common at Banner Health to have women such as Frost in key leadership roles–more than half of Banner’s senior managers are female.
“The culture at Banner Health is incredibly inclusive,” she said. “I am proud to be one of many female leaders in our system and proud to say that there is nothing unique about it.”
The challenges locally have been numerous over the past couple of years. Banner-UMC, the only ACS Level I trauma center in Southern Arizona, was even more hectic during the pandemic.
Frost said Banner’s two hospitals, cancer center, urgent care centers and dozens of outpatient clinics provide more than a million patient appointments per year. Leading that charge is a responsibility that she relishes on good and tough days.
“So much has changed in the last two years, and, like everyone else, there are good days and there are hard days,” Frost said. “We see heartbreak, but we also see joy and second chances. I am grateful to share all these moments with our community.”PHOTO BY CHRIS MOONEY
CEO Long Realty Company By Tara Kirkpatrick RENEE GONZALES
Running the region’s leading real estate company, Reneé Gonza les’ favorite part of the job is still the simple but life-changing act of an agent handing the keys to a new homeowner.
“That’s why we do this,” said the CEO of Long Companies. “Our ultimate goal is to positively impact people’s lives. Buying a home can be one of the most stressful and largest investments you make...our goal is to help the consumer through the process so they feel like it was a great experience and they get the home they wanted.”
Gonzales took over as CEO of the family-founded company in January 2021. Since joining Long in 2002, she has served as the executive VP of Core Services, president of Long Title Agency and managing director of Long Mortgage Co, which she helped launch and lead to fruition. She now oversees leadership and stra tegic planning for all of Long Companies, which comprise Long Realty Company, Prosperity Home Mortgage, Agave Title Agency and Long Insurance Group.
“She’s a superstar,” said Steve Quinlan, chairman emeritus of Long Companies. “She really is one of the best hires I ever made. She listens, she takes the time to query the subject matter to make sure she is on the same page, she is very responsive. When she says something, she does it.”
In leading a company of entrepreneurial real estate agents, Gon zales is essentially a CEO of CEOs. “They are the CEO of their own company,” she said. “We provide the training, the marketing, the offices and the culture for them to run their own businesses. We want them to be as successful as they want to be.”
A Nebraska native and mom, Gonzales has become a nationally recognized speaker and expert on multiple real estate topics. She works often with HomeServices of Amer ica, the Realty Alliance–a network of the country’s top real estate companies. In addition to timely real estate issues, she likes to speak about building the individual business and the steps to success.
“To me, the most important thing is helping people around me be successful,” Gonzales said. “Being a leader is being a supporter. I believe I’ve had a successful day when someone I’ve had a conversation with was able to move toward their goal.”
As Long nears a century in business in Southern Arizona, she’s proud to lead that legacy. “It’s a fam ily and we still run it as a family. We care about each individual that walks in the door.”
Regional President OneAZ Credit UnionBy Eva Halvax
When Lisa Hagins first moved to Tucson, she knew she’d found her place.
Originally from England, she arrived here when her husband retired from the military. They had never been to Arizona before and Hagins has never looked back.
Now, 13 years later, she is the regional president of OneAZ Credit Union. Prior to Tucson, Hagins garnered rich experience in the financial industry by working for Bank of America on military bases overseas where she lived. In Tucson, she continued in bank ing but wanted to work somewhere that focused on giving back to the community. She found that at OneAZ Credit Union.
“People are so warm and welcoming in Tucson, and it’s an en vironment where people nurture you. I feel there’s a big passion around nonprofit organizations and that there’s a real passion about giving,” Hagins said. “To me, Tucson is the heart of Ari zona.”
She began her career at OneAZ in 2013. Based in Arizona, OneAZ challenges social setbacks by using local connections to its advantage. In her role, Hagins’ empathetic nature continues to meld with an unwavering ambition to better the lives of women and underserved youth in our community.
She aims to establish financial education programs in local high schools and colleges so young people can learn about investing, loans and other pivotal financial information.
OneAZ’s mission emphasizes improving lives in the communities it serves, giving back through the OneAZ Community Foundation and its Five Pillars of Support – children’s health, food banks, fi nancial education, veterans’ and first responders’ issues, and local youth programs. Hagins said $750,000 in grants and donations have been given to nonprofits since the foundation’s establish ment in 2015, with a pledge of $500,000 in 2022.
“What’s really important to me is leading with your heart, and having a passion for your team. And I think that’s how I got to where I am. I love my team, the community of Arizona and being a part of that,” Hagins said.
She is also a board member of I Am You 360, a non profit that mentors homeless youth in Tucson and provides small homes, hygiene products and other resources. She helps support financial education and an “I AM SOME BODY“ curriculum to boost self-confidence and inde pendence in young people, particularly women.
“Lisa Hagins is a natural-born, compassionate leader,” said Desiree Cook, I Am You 360 founder and CEO. “She also is invested in her commu nity for direct and long-term impact and does it with grace and style.”PHOTO BY CHRIS MOONEY
Chair – Community Foundation Southern Arizona Board of DirectorsBy David Pittman STYNE HILL
With wisdom, skill and dedication, Wyllstyne D. Hill advanced to lofty executive levels within the high-tech, male-dominated military defense industry, while also contributing a long history of volunteer service that has benefitted numerous causes.
In an amazing 42-year career at Raytheon Missiles Systems, Hill climbed the ranks, taking on ever-larger projects and management positions until ultimately rising to VP and chief information officer overseeing a staff of more than 550 IT employees inside Southern Arizona’s largest private company.
After retiring from Raytheon, she became the founder and presi dent of her own firm, Styne Hill & Associates, which specializes in business and information systems strategies, including project man agement, leadership development, and program and data integration.
Hill is highly respected for her sustained leadership efforts helping various community causes, including the University of Arizona Presi dent’s Black Community Advisory Council, the Arizona Technology Council, Tucson Urban League, United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona and UArizona’s Management Information Systems Board of Advisors. She currently chairs the Community Foundation for the Southern Arizona Board of Trustees.
CFSA president and CEO Jenny Flynn said the organization is “lucky” Hill leads the board.
“Styne Hill is a systems thinker who strengthens processes and op erations, is committed to our community, and demonstrates deep care for the people she works with,” Flynn said. “As a new CEO, I benefit every day from her decades of business experience as a pioneering woman of color in technology, leadership and community causes.
Hill began her career at Hughes Aircraft, which later became Ray theon, after graduating from Tuskegee University in Alabama in 1971 with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and a minor in computer science. She later completed the Arizona Executive Program through UArizona’s Eller College of Management and has ad ditional certifications from University of Chicago, University of Southern California and The Wharton School at the Uni versity of Pennsylvania.
“When I joined the company in the early 70s, the en gineering field was male-dominated and there were few women and Blacks working in the engineering area,” Hill said.
“I came to Tucson armed with a math and computer science degree and even though my first job was ‘gen eral clerk’ to the department manager, I analyzed au tomated processes and designed reports to improve workflow, eliminate waste and improve the depart ment processes and output. Wihin six months, I was promoted to production control and data analysis/metrics lead. I had leaders and men tors who helped me expand my skills in order to be promotable and I am grateful.”
VP Arizona Technology CouncilBy David Pittman KARLA BERNAL MORALES
Karla Bernal Morales, a leader in education, nonprofit and govern mental endeavors, is proving to be a huge success in her new position managing the Southern Arizona Office of the Arizona Technology Council.
The ATC is the state’s premier trade association for science and technology companies. Morales, named VP in March 2021, oversees the organization here, which includes responsibility for strategy, de velopment, operations, support of policy development, business goals and objectives and financial matters, as well as recruiting and retain ing members, securing sponsorship and supporting events related to the region.
“Karla Morales is an outstanding community leader who has worked tirelessly to improve the innovation economy and create countless op portunities in technology for all throughout Southern Arizona,” said Steven G. Zylstra, ATC’s president and CEO. “She is an extremely valued member of our team and a key leader in our state’s technology ecosystem who truly deserves this recognition.”
“I absolutely love the opportunity to work in the tech sector,” said Morales. “Pivoting into this industry was equally intimidating and re warding. It has opened my eyes to the many opportunities available in Southern AZ and allowed me to combine two of my greatest passions: community improvement and economic growth.”
There are about 800 member companies statewide in the ATC, nearly 300 of which are located in Southern Arizona. Morales said about 80% of the members are small- and medium-sized com panies.
Prior to joining ATC, Karla worked in several capacities at University of Arizona, including director of the Office of Mul ticultural Advancement, senior program coordinator for the Office of Government & Community Relations, and coor dinator of desk and summer operations for Housing & Residential Life. She served as executive director of Rio Rico Health & Wellness, director of resource develop ment at United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona and a program service evaluator for the Arizona De partment of Economic Security.
Morales earned a bachelor’s degree from UAri zona and an MBA from Eller College of Man agement in May. She also is Chair of the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce board.
“I am a firm believer that representation matters and being the first female leader, for the tech sector trade association in our region, is a matter of great responsibility,” said Mo rales. “My personal goal is to spread the mes sage to all, but specifically women, that we have a right and a responsibility to not deprive our region and nation of the impactful contributions of the great women in science and technology.”PHOTO BY CHRIS MOONEY
LEA MARQUEZ PETERSON
Chair Arizona Corporation CommissionBy Tara Kirkpatrick
In state matters of corporate, energy and public policy, Lea Márquez Peterson often finds herself the lone voice from Southern Arizona.
The region couldn’t be better served.
The chairwoman of the Arizona Corporation Commission, former president of the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, former U.S. congressional candidate, mother of two and business owner is an icon of public service to the community where she was raised. The number of organizations she has served over the years is eclipsed only by the number of miles she drives across the state each week.
“We need to see more of Southern Arizona in statewide decisions,” Peterson said. “I really try to encourage others to participate, so our perspective is heard.”
The product of an entrepreneurial family, Peterson grew up watch ing her grandparents run a successful tortilla factory and a turquoise shop. She and brother Edmund would call customers for their dad’s insurance company and wait tables at their mom’s community theater. “They always told us, you can accomplish what you set your mind to and build your future,” she said.
A University of Arizona graduate with an MBA from Pepperdine University, Peterson devoted seven years to Shell Oil, owned several gas stations and opened a business brokerage firm. She led Greater Tucson Leadership as its executive director before becoming president of the Tucson Hispanic Chamber, where she worked to give a voice to small business owners.
“I really started speaking up and writing letters,” she said. “We made some pretty brave statements. I took criticism and I had sup port, but I was a spokesperson and I knew who I was representing.”
After a run for U.S. Congress in 2018, Gov. Doug Ducey ap pointed Peterson to the ACC. She became the first Latina in Arizona history to hold a statewide seat and the only representative outside Maricopa County. Decisions about clean energy, climate change and water shortages now fill her day. She was just appointed to the National Associa tion of Regulatory Utility Commissioners Nuclear Energy Subcommittee.
“Lea’s willingness to serve the families and businesses of Arizona is well-known,” said Ducey. “She has always been willing to use her extensive leadership experience to make our state a better place to live and work.”
“I’m representing the rate payers,” Peterson said. “Even though I’m regulating some of the largest employ ers and utilities, I’m representing the people who can’t be at the table.”
KATHY PRATHERBy Eva Halvax
Kathy Prather has never lost sight of the importance of community.
As CEO and superintendent of Pima Joint Technical Education Dis trict, Prather’s dedication and innovation have helped transform the fu tures of students across Southern Arizona.
It’s no wonder that auto mogul Jim Click once told BizTucson, “there wouldn’t be a JTED in Tucson without Kathy.”
Established in 2007, Pima JTED provides high school students across the region with free career and technical education programs, allowing them to earn industry certifications and licenses for direct employment, and dual credit for post-secondary success.
“Our goal is to ensure that our students have the highest level of op portunities in our community,” Prather said. “To do that, we have to be aligned with what is happening in industry and what local businesses need. Not just what those needs are today, but what those needs are in the future. That pushes us to be proactive and to be cutting edge.”
Prather has an extensive background in education, and taught at schools across Arizona. But as a born and raised Tucsonan, Prather’s heart is here. Her ingenuity and hard work have served this community well. With thousands of students able to access education that best suits their goals, they can prepare now for their futures after graduation.
“We bring contextual learning into academics, and it makes our stu dents academic performance stronger,” she said. “That’s what we’re about. We’re really excited about the engagement of our young people and their ability to be successful through the way that we deliver educa tion.”
Under Prather’s leadership, Pima JTED has established a synergistic relationship with businesses and community leaders to provide a quali fied workforce for the future. “We want to ensure that students have the cutting-edge skills, credentials and licenses that businesses need,” she said.
Prather and the Governing Board continue to advance the quality of Pima JTED education. Currently, in col laboration with the University of Arizona and others, JTED is building a new school for students pursuing health and medical careers. Soon, students will use vir tual reality to peer inside the human body thanks to a grant from Rotary Club of Tucson.
“Kathy has done a remarkable job expanding ac cess to a unique blend of technical education oppor tunities for students throughout Southern Arizona,” said Wes Kremer, president of Raytheon Missiles & Defense. “The work Kathy and her JTED team do to cultivate top talent is crucial for the growth of our community and the health of our business.”PHOTO BY CHRIS MOONEY Superintendent and CEO Pima Joint Technical Education District
President and CEO Vantage West Credit UnionBy Rodney Campbell
Being a manager is one thing. Being a leader is something more.
Sandra Sagehorn-Elliott sees the difference, and that knowledge helps her get top-notch efforts from her team as Vantage West Credit Union’s president and CEO.
“I don’t believe you can ‘manage’ other people,” said SagehornElliott, who started in her position in late 2020. “Each individual chooses how they show up professionally. As a leader, I think it’s more important to provide inspiration. I want our team to see what a sig nificant difference they make in our members’ lives and what a differ ence Vantage West makes in the communities we serve.
“When team members understand the importance of their contri butions, it is energizing and provides them the self-motivation they need to bring their best every day.”
Peter Rice, now CEO of Hanscom Federal Credit Union, served under Sagehorn-Elliott as chief banking officer at Workers Credit Union in Massachusetts. He started there just before the pandemic, giving him the opportunity to see Sagehorn-Elliott’s leadership quali ties shine during the most trying circumstances.
“Sandra led with passion and common sense, focusing our team on what mattered, always liking to give our members an edge as they faced crisis and opportunity,” Rice said. “As a leader, Sandra is highly aware that a crisis today can, if managed correctly, provide opportu nity tomorrow.”
Sagehorn-Elliott is proud to work in an industry that welcomes women in leadership roles. A Credit Union National Association re port last year showed that 51% of credit union CEOs are female, while women make up only 3% of CEOs at traditional banks.
“I have been given incredible opportunities and support throughout my career,” she said. “I think it is incumbent upon people who have had an experience like mine to pay it forward and support people/groups who have traditionally been underrepresented in financial services as a whole and in the management ranks.”
Sagehorn-Elliott has spent more than 20 years in financial services. She started as a call center representative in college and worked her way to leading an organization with more than $2.5 billion in assets.
In the end, she gets her greatest satisfaction out of lead ing a team that meets the needs of approximately 170,000 Vantage West members.
“I love what I do,” Sagehorn-Elliott said. “I get to work with a dynamic group of individuals who are committed to helping others. It’s fun to analyze the challenges we encounter and work with the team to come up with creative solutions. We’re constantly striving to do better today than we did yester day and producing tangible results. That’s fulfilling.”
Michelle Trindade finds potential in everything.
As senior VP of customer experience at GEICO, Trindade has been a catalyst for empowering teams to identify new, innovative ways to serve the insurer’s more than 18 million policyholders.
Trindade’s career at GEICO began in 1997 as a sales counselor in Florida. She credits her mom, who referred her to this position, for helping her discover the abundance of opportunities available at GEICO, which has led to her own 25-year career and counting.
In just one year, Trindade became supervisor; and then advanced through several leadership roles before being elected assistant VP in 2009 for the insurer’s mid-Atlantic operations.
In 2018, Trindade’s career with GEICO brought her to Arizona when she was named regional VP with responsibility for all insur ance operations in seven western states. Upon her arrival, Trin dade was quick to fall in love with the Tucson community. “There’s something very special about the people in Tucson,” she said.
Trindade was heavily invested in the construction of GEICO’s new location in South Tucson. She facilitated the relocation of over 1,500 people and aimed to provide team members with a welcom ing environment to establish and maintain their careers. This site has become the most environmentally friendly building within the company, as 80% of its electricity is generated from solar panels in the parking lot.
Through her life, Trindade has learned to balance many roles: working full-time while attending school through GEI CO’s tuition benefit, being a mother and volunteering. As a volunteer, Trindade takes her own personal mantra to heart. She focuses on what she calls the three Ts: Time, Talent and Treasure. Trindade believes it’s most impor tant to volunteer your time and talent to help others, and if you feel comfortable, follow that by donating money or critical supplies when possible.
Trindade was the vice chair of the board of directors of United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona and actively volunteers with Zion City Church, where she mentors local business leaders and young adults.
“Our United Way and entire community are stron ger because of Michelle Trindade and her inspirational leadership,” said Tony Penn, CEO of United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona. “Her thoughtful contri butions to our board of directors have led to impact and innovation. All those who serve with Michelle are better because of her talent and spirit.”Senior VP, Customer Experience GEICO By Eva Halvax PHOTO BY CHRIS MOONEY
El Rio Health Names New CEO
Clinton Kuntz joined El Rio Health as the next CEO upon the retirement of Nancy Johnson, who served El Rio Health for the past 14 years.
Kuntz comes to El Rio Health from MHC Marana Healthcare where he served as CEO since 2013. He has experience in all areas of healthcare management including operations, finance, information technology and building construction. Kuntz serves on the board of directors of the Arizona Alliance for Community Health Centers, Arizona Health Insurance Reciprocal Compa ny, Sun Corridor Inc., Collaborative Ventures Network and P3 Arizona. He also serves on the board and is the president of VBCare Network, which focuses on valuebased contracting.
Before coming to MHC, Kuntz served as CEO and COO in community health centers. As CEO, he led Fairfield Community Health Center, in Lancaster, Ohio, from a new single site Community Health Center to five sites serving all of Fairfield County. Before going to Fair field Community Health Center, Kuntz served as COO and director of information technology for Muskingum Valley Health Centers.
He holds a doctorate in behavioral health from Ari zona State University, a master’s degree in information technology from Boston University and a bachelor’s de gree in computer science from Mount Vernon Nazarene University.
On the personal side, Kuntz lives in Tucson with his wife Kendra and three children, Elijah, Mia, and Aire onahh. In his spare time, he enjoys camping, hiking, rid ing his Harley and spending time with his family.
Long Realty Cares Foundation Marks 20 YearsBy Loni Nannini
Twenty years ago, employees with the largest real estate compa ny in Southern Arizona became agents of altruism: Long Realty Company broke new ground –not on a home, but on a foundation that has put millions of dol lars into the community.
Since 2002, the foundation has funneled donations of more than $3.5 million to 300-plus nonprof its of all sizes throughout the re gion.
“The original premise of the foundation was to offer hope to those who needed housing or shel ter,” said Steve Quinlan, who was president of Long Realty when the foundation was established.
“That has evolved over time to
include providing sustenance and comfort and serving other needs in the communities where we work and live. I am thrilled that it has been so successful.”
Beneficiaries over the years have run the gamut − nonprofits that support social services, health, wellness and research, youth out reach, education, animal care and rescue, and arts education and outreach.
The list of grant recipients reads like a “Who’s Who” of regional charities; many are well known while others may be less familiar. All are reflective of the distinctive character of Tucson and South ern Arizona. Funds have also
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been gifted to service organizations, scholarships, schools and school-related foundations, including the University of Arizona Foundation, Rotary and Soroptimist clubs, and other founda tions and organizations that support nonprofits such as Angel Charity for Children, El Rio Health Center Foun dation, TMC Foundation and many more.
Ultimately, Quinlan said, Long Real ty Cares embraces the philosophy that supporting those in need is a longterm investment in Tucson and surrounding communities, including Green Valley, Sahuarita and Sierra Vista, as well as other areas that Long Realty serves throughout southern Arizona.
“It is important for each of us to give back to our community if we can afford to do that. It helps Tucson to be better. When Tucson does better, we sell more houses and it is great for businesses − not only for Long Realty Company, Long Insurance, Agave Title Agency (formerly Long Title) and Prosperity Mortgage (formerly Long Mortgage), but for other businesses and for the economy overall,” said Quinlan, who also recognizes that nonprofits them selves play an integral role in the re gion’s economic health.
In fact, the nonprofit sector is ranked among Arizona’s top five nongovern ment employers. It accounts for 7% of wages and salaries statewide, according to a 2016 study by the Alliance of Ari zona Nonprofits.
A Core of Caring
Long Realty Cares was spearheaded by Quinlan and a core group of for ward-thinking REALTORS® and ex ecutives, including now-retired Diane Weintraub, the late Christine “Wissy” Wendt and Rosey Koberlein, who was general manager of Long Realty Com pany at the time and is now the chair of Long Companies.
The innovative group understood the power of cooperative philanthropy.
“Long Realty had a history of sup port for community organizations, and we thought, ‘How can we leverage this to increase the contributions and ex pand the reach of that support?’ One way to do that was to get even more
agents engaged in the process,” said Quinlan.
After extensive research and plan ning, they implemented a process that enabled agents to contribute to the foundation during closings on sales transactions for homes and properties. Agents can choose to gift a percentage or flat fee from their commissions on sales. They can also opt to make an nual donations. Long Realty Cares then sends acknowledgement to clients that a contribution to the foundation has been made in the client’s name. Long employees also participate by having contributions deducted from their pay checks.
“This is a feel-good situation for consumers,” Koberlein said. “They appreciate that their sales associate is philanthropic-minded and that part of the sales associate’s commission went to the foundation to support nonprofits. Some clients are so impressed that they then make additional donations to the
buying or selling houses or making donations on behalf of clients or on behalf of nonprofits, we strive to make a positive impact on people’s lives.”
Reneé Gonzales CEO Long Realty CompaniesCOMMUNITY FOOD BANK COMMUNITY FOOD BANK
Shortly after it was formed, the foun dation began funding monthly grants − most range between $500 and $5,000 − to local nonprofits. In 2017, it added larger “Annual Significant Gifts” of be tween $20,000 and $65,000 in an effort to “go above and beyond” the monthly grants with high-impact gifts.
All gifts are made possible by more than 500 donors who have contributed at various levels over the years. Bene factors have donated up to $4,999; atrons have gifted from $5,000 to $19,999 and Champions have donated between $20,000 and $49,999. Vision ary Contributors have donated between $50,000 and $100,000 and include Christine and Russell Long − whose grandfather, Roy, founded Long Realty in 1926 − and Koberlein, who is grati fied by the foundation’s momentum. stly had no idea when we started this that 20 years later we would have contributed $3.5 million back to charities in communities around the state. I could not have imagined that it would grow this much,” Koberlein said.
She credits the success to the inher ent generosity of those who make real estate their careers.
“It is within the DNA of REAL TORS® to give back,” she said. “As a REALTOR®, your business base is your community, and you receive in come from your community. Giving back to that community is critically im portant for how you live your life.”
A Testament to Community Commitment
In retrospect, Koberlein is particu larly impressed that the foundation has maintained its mission through decades of local, national and global economic fluctuations.
“For six of the past 20 years, we were in a serious recession during which real estate transactions and average sales were reduced by 50%. Those were challenging financial times, but agents and employees continued to contribute to the foundation to support nonprof its. It is a testament to their community commitment,” Koberlein said.
That commitment was also tested during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The foundation rose to the occasion
by providing emergency grants to non profits that were struggling due to de creases in donations and loss of volun teers while simultaneously experiencing increased need from clients. The quick response by the board of directors filled unique needs through the Commu nity Food Bank of Southern Arizona; YMCA of Southern Arizona, which requested support for development of an after-school care program for first responders; the Educational Enrich ment Foundation, which used funding to provide laptops for students during distance learning; and Mending Souls, which made face masks.
“This was extra funding for these nonprofits when everything was uncer tain and money was tight for everyone,” said Foundation President Thom Me lendez. “Moving forward, we want to ensure that we have reserves so that we continued on page 139 >>>
“I honestly when we started this that 20 years later we would have contributed $3.5 million back to charities in communities around the state.”
Rosey Koberlein Chair Long Realty Companies
can consider emergency grants if need ed again in times of financial distress.
Changing Lives, Saving Lives
Today, Long Realty Company boasts more than 1,400 licensed real estate sales associates in more than 40 of fices, including 27 affiliate real estate and property management companies statewide. The business ranks in the top 30 of independent real estate com panies in the nation based on the Real Trends 500 Survey, and its affiliation with the Long Realty Cares Foundation is a distinct attraction for many agents and employees, Melendez said.
Melendez joined Long Realty in 2017 after a 10-year career in the non profit sector that included a role as ma jor gifts fundraiser at the University of Arizona. He joined the board of direc tors for Long Realty Cares in 2018.
“I know the gifts from Long Realty Cares Foundation are significant to nonprofits and I like the fact that the foundation gives to so many differ ent organizations in Southern Ari
zona,” Melendez said. “I will never be a millionaire, but I know that my gifts through the foundation have a broader impact because they are combined with the donations of others.”
That impact is facilitated by the di verse 17-member board of directors, each of whom is appointed to a threeyear term. Board members represent offices throughout the region. Board members are also affiliated with offices in Sahuarita, Sierra Vista and Green Valley and corporate, title and mort gage offices.
“Long Realty and the Long Realty Cares Foundation is here to positive ly impact people’s lives: That is our ‘Why,’ ” said Long Realty CEO Reneé Gonzales. “Whether it is in regard to buying or selling houses or making do nations on behalf of clients or on be half of nonprofits, we strive to make a positive impact on people’s lives.”
Long Realty agents represent varied backgrounds and cultures, ages, educa tion levels, religions and economic sta tus. The intent is for the board to open windows into different areas and neigh
borhoods and to better understand the unique needs in the communities that they represent, ultimately proving more effective in the foundation’s mission to provide basic needs, comfort and suste nance.
“When people join the foundation board, there is an enormous sense of pride that they are participating in the distribution of dollars they know their colleagues worked hard to earn,” Ko berlein said. “They are serious about being good ambassadors for those funds so they have maximum impact.”
As president, Melendez is not a vot ing member, but he is diligent about meeting with local organizations to monitor need in the community. He is constantly in search of new nonprofits while promoting awareness about the foundation and encouraging fellow board members to do the same.
“I learned a phrase in philanthropy that stayed with me: ‘It is about chang ing lives and saving lives,’ ” Melendez said. “My vision is that the foundation will continue to change lives and save lives in our community.”Biz
Grant Process Values Inclusion
Raffle Raises Thousands Each YearBy Loni Nannini
Since it was formed, the Long Realty Cares Foundation has finetuned a unique dual-pronged process for implementation of the col lective power of caring.
“Many people who are philanthropic-minded have multiple inter ests and give to multiple nonprofits,” said Thom Melendez, president of the board of directors for the foundation. “For agents and employ ees of Long Realty Company who are already supporting charities, giving through the Long Realty Cares Foundation is almost like dou bling or tripling your gifts − and in some cases, even more.”
The foundation collects donations for grants primarily from Long Realty Company sales associates who gift funds through commissions during closings on home or property transactions. The optional gifts are a flat fee or a percentage of select transactions, and real estate agents can choose to have funds distributed per transaction or annu ally. All Long Realty Company employees can support the foundation through direct gifts by credit card, check or cash.
Every donor to the Long Realty Cares Foundation is designated a “member” of the foundation and is then eligible to “sponsor” non profits.
“To be a sponsor, you have to be involved with the charity. For ex ample, if you want to sponsor Youth on Their Own, you have to be a volunteer or perhaps a board member of the nonprofit and then you
on page 143 >>>HABITAT FOR HUMANITY EL RIO HEALTH CENTER, CHERRYBELL SOUTHERN ARIZONA AIDS FOUNDATION
continued from page 141
can ‘sponsor’ or request that YOTO become a beneficiary of a grant from the foundation,” said Melendez, adding that financial support to a charity also qualifies one as a sponsor.
Each sponsor submits a written grant request to the board member af filiated with their respective Long Re alty branch office. That board member presents the grant request to fellow board members and serves as a liaison between the sponsor and the board.
Grants are funneled back into the community by the 17-member board of directors comprised of representa tives from Long Realty Company offic es throughout the region, including Sa huarita, Sierra Vista and Green Valley.
Monthly Gif ts that Keep Giving
Grant requests generally range be tween $500 and $5,000 and multiple grants are gifted monthly depending on the funds available. Through August of this year, more than 40 monthly grantsThom Melendez Board President Long Realty Cares Foundation
ities in just one year,” said Melendez.
The foundation intentionally oper ates with only a small endowment, ac cording to Board VP Ron Sable.
“The board of directors holds back a small amount in case of catastrophe, but we believe it is our responsibility to get donor dollars into the hands of charities the donors actively support and to the programs that are so impor tant. That is why we tell donors that their gifts can be leveraged into larger gifts for their favorite charities,” said Sable.
Amplified Caring through Annual Significant Gifts
of various sizes have been gifted to non profits to address diverse needs.
“We love the idea that everyone can join in. By making a $25 or $50 dona tion, sometimes people think, ‘What will that do? It will help a little, but will it make a difference?’ When you get a bunch of people contributing and pool the donations, before you know it, your donation has touched 57 different char
The foundation takes gifting to the next level with Annual Significant Gifts − five-figure grants that were imple mented because of the Ticket to Care annual fall raffle.
The raffle, which has been trade marked by the foundation, is the brain child of real estate agent Liz Peckham, board president from 2011-2013. A
continued on page 144 >>>
“We love the idea that everyone can join in.”
Both Long Realty Cares Foundation and Ben’s Bells are celebrating milestone 20th anniversaries this year and it was great to be able to partner with them to recreate the ‘I am Tucson’ mural with a new home at the Tuc son Convention Center. Long Realty Cares Foundation stepped in as the lead sponsor for this mural, which we like to call ‘the conveyor belt of kindness.’ We have individuals, businesses and organizations coming in to create hundreds and hundreds of tiles for the mural that will be enjoyed for generations to come.
continued from page 143 seasoned fundraising veteran for Cata lina Foothills School District Founda tion, Boys and Girls Clubs of Tucson and Tucson Medical Center We Are Champions (an affinity group of the TMC Foundation), Peckham developed the event in 2008 in response to ongo ing need from local nonprofits.
“We were trying to think of creative ways to fill the need of the community because we had so many grant requests, plus we wanted to gift some larger grants that would have a large-scale im pact,” said Peckham.
To that end, she created a raffle com prised of one-of-a-kind experiences − dinners with Long Realty executives, combination golf/spa days and other attractive prizes − that would appeal to groups of friends and families.
The fundraiser was an instant success and has evolved to include more than 100 offerings each year with a grand prize of $5,000 and two $1,000 prizes, as well as gift cards to local restaurants, golf packages, art and jewelry, gift bas kets from local businesses and much more. Since the onset of COVID-19, prizes have included $5,000 in gift cards from local restaurants purchased by the foundation in an attempt to offset the fi nancial hardship experienced by small, locally owned businesses during the pandemic.
Ticket to Care 2022 Raffle ticket sales are open to the public and begin online Oct. 10 and continue through Nov. 2.; tickets are one for $15, two for $20, 12 for $100, 65 for $500 and 110 for $750.
Ticket to Care presents an affordable opportunity for the community to come together with a common goal of car ing while raising funds for projects with far-reaching impact, according to Long Realty Cares Foundation Administrator Michelle Salvagio.
Dedicated to spreading intentional kindness and reminding people to practice kindness daily.
“For only $15, you could potentially win a grand prize of $5,000, so this is truly a win-win because that money is going toward programs that continue to improve the places where we work and live,” said Salvagio.
Since 2017, the foundation has gifted a total of six Annual Significant Gifts in amounts ranging from $20,000 to
on page 146 >>>
− Helen Gomez, Executive Director of Ben’s Bells
Long Realty Cares Foundation has blessed us so that we can bless others and ‘grateful’ doesn’t begin to describe how we feel. They are helping so many dif ferent organizations that support people and families who are out there trying to better themselves but have run into hard times. Everyone has hard times now and then, and Long Realty Cares Foundation helps to give people something to fall back on.− Karen Stewart, founder of Haven Totes
The all-volunteer nonprofit has received monthly grant funding to purchase nonperishable food staples for those from low-come families. Haven Totes serves more than 200 families monthly through its food bank at 701 S. Kolb Road and food pantries at Amphithe ater Middle School, Apollo Middle School, Catalina High School, and several other local schools. It also offers emergency “Kid Totes” with weekend meals for students and emergency family food bags through 15 schools on the east side of Tucson. www.haventotes.org
continued from page 144 $65,000. Chosen by members of the board of directors, the diverse grants have served as vital seed money for projects such as the Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation Thornhill Lopez Center on 4th for LGBTQ+ youth; El Rio Health’s Cherrybell Health Center; the Healing the Healer Patio at Tucson Medical Center; the Habitat for Hu manity Tucson Connie Hillman Urban Construction Knowledge (CHUCK) Center, and the Ben’s Bells “I am Tuc son” Mural at Tucson Convention Center. Additionally, one grant provid ed an accessible van for Esperanza en Escalante, which provides transitional housing and other services for homeless and near-homeless veterans.
A Pulse on Local Philanthropy
Ultimately, the entire grant process for Long Realty Cares Foundation is de signed to monitor the pulse of the everexpanding nonprofit sector in Southern Arizona and respond to needs through gifts both small and large. The grants are frequently accompanied by handson, personal support from members of the Long Realty Cares Foundation in the form of supply drives, in-kind gifts and volunteer hours.
The net result is increased public awareness about the array of nonprofits serving the region.
“REALTORS® encounter so many different people throughout their days and it gives them opportunities to re ally connect with different nonprofits,” Peckham said. “We deal with clients from every walk of life who know of organizations that many people have never heard about. Through the Long Realty Cares Foundation, we are in the perfect position to help get the word out and provide support.”
Foundation Finds the Underserved and Lesser-known NonprofitsBy Loni Nannini
This year, Long Realty Cares Foun dation marks a 20-year crusade of caring, a movement that has impacted 200-plus regional nonprofits.
“This is a long list of local charities that represents countless individuals, families and lives in our community,” said Michelle Salvagio, foundation administrator for Long Realty Cares Foundation.
Through monthly grants and fivefigure Annual Significant Gifts, the foundation has touched virtually every aspect of the nonprofit sector − social services, health, wellness and research, youth outreach, support for seniors and veterans, education, animal care and rescue, and arts education and out reach.
Development of partnerships with nonprofits and communication with potential grant recipients has been key to the process, according to Salvagio.
“Our board of directors is commit ted to cultivating relationships with both new and established charities through our Long Realty Companies donor members to give our grant dol lars the biggest impact,” said Salvagio.
Partnerships that empower
Fittingly for an organization founded by a real estate brokerage, a longterm partner over the years is Habitat for Humanity Tucson, which is dedicated to facilitating home ownership for lowincome families that earn 40% to 80% of Pima County’s median income.
The foundation has been instru mental not only in helping to establish
HabiStore Tucson, but in coordinating volunteer teams to assist with building homes and, most recently, in providing $20,000 in seed funding for the Connie Hillman Urban Construction Knowl edge (CHUCK) Center slated to open in January 2023.
“We use the term ‘game-changer’ in reference to Long Realty Cares Foun dation and the support it has provided for Habitat for Humanity Tucson and the CHUCK Center,” said Charlie Bu chanan, CEO of Habitat for Human ity Tucson. “We are excited about the bright opportunities that this facility will present to Habitat and the com munity. Currently, we close between 12 and 15 homes per year, and our goal is to increase that to 20 homes annually with the CHUCK Center.”
The 14,000-square-foot center seeks to solve complex issues surrounding the construction labor force. In col laboration with Pima Community Col lege, the facility will offer a hands-on learning lab to facilitate construction of homes and modular housing com ponents while providing training in the plumbing, carpentry, framing and elec trician fields. Warehouse space at the center will also allow Habitat to capture cost savings by procuring construction materials in bulk while minimizing sup ply chain issues.
Buchanan emphasized that support from the foundation will help address the ongoing shortage of affordable homes in the current housing market, in which home prices have doubled and rent prices have increased by 60% over the last five years.Charlie Buchanan CEO Habitat for Humanity Tucson
“There is a dire need for skilled labor in construction and the trades across Arizona, and we will offer training in both construction and home repair,” Buchanan said. “The goal is to accel erate production and preservation of
reference to Long Realty Cares Foundation and the support it has provided for Habitat for Humanity Tucson.”
affordable housing within Southern Arizona. We are trying to provide more opportunities for home ownership, which is a permanent solution to the stabilization of families and neighbor hoods.”
Support for the most vulnerable members of the community
Potential stabilization of vulnerable populations was also the impetus be hind the foundation’s $65,000 Annual Significant Gift to Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation (SAAF) in support of the Thornhill Lopez Center on 4th.
“The Long Realty Cares Foundation has been an amazing, longtime sup porter of SAAF. The foundation’s con tribution to our capital campaign for the Thornhill Lopez Center played a huge part in providing an affirming and safe space for LGBTQ+ youth,” said Monique Vallery, director of develop ment for SAAF.
Opened in 2017, the center provides an array of support and services for LG BTQ+ and allied youth ages 13 to 24, including a learning lab and computer center; performance space; a kitchen; laundry and showers; a bodega that supplies food, clothing and other basic needs, and common space for meetings and other activities. Vallery said it is a vital resource for marginalized commu nity members, particularly since LG BTQ+ youth experience higher rates of homelessness, family estrangement, bullying and suicide.
“The center allows young people continued on page 152 >>>HABITAT FOR HUMANITY CHILDREN’S MUSEUM TUCSON SAAF SARSEF
from page 151
to be recognized for their authentic selves,” Vallery said. “It offers a healthy and safe environment that can help with finishing school, assist with work force development and build positive life skills so youth can continue forward and become contributing members of the community.”
Promoting healthy alliances and awareness for nonprofits
Development of healthy alliances with lesser-known nonprofit partners is also a priority for Long Realty Cares Foundation, according to foundation board President Thom Melendez.
“The foundation does more than give grants. It also provides education and information to members about amaz ing charities and services available in the community that they might not be aware of,” said Melendez.
Sol Food Initiatives is one such ben eficiary. Dedicated to the elimination of food insecurity through collaboration, the nonprofit community kitchen was
established through Saguaro Christian Church three years ago. It fed up to 100 families weekly during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and continues to supply 40 meals for the homeless each Wednesday at Saguaro Center, 8302 E. Broadway.
Long Realty Cares Foundation has supported the efforts with monthly grants and emergency funding during COVID.
“There is a real food desert on the east side of Tucson that many people don’t know about. These are lower in come people that need help,” said Ker ry Swindle, board chair for Sol Food Initiatives. “It is our goal to help them, and we are grateful that the foundation supports that vision. It has been a bless ing for our program and so many oth ers.”
The foundation has championed other distinctive nonprofits such as the Angel Heart Pajama Project, which has gifted 38,000 pairs of pajamas and books to children in crisis since 2013. The nonprofit serves kids who are
homeless, abused, neglected, ill and low-income through 80 social service agencies predominantly in Tucson, Si erra Vista, Marana, Yuma and along the I-19 corridor. It also serves refugees and kids in shelters and the foster care system.
Both the foundation grants and the exposure the nonprofit has received as a result of Long Realty Companies’ re cent pajama/book drive are invaluable, according to Patti Lopez, executive di rector of Angel Heart Pajama Project.
“The support is phenomenal. When we combine the foundation grants with the pajamas collected by Long Realty Companies, we will reach at least 1,500 kids,” said Lopez. “Many of these kids have never had a pair of pajamas. They just sleep in underwear or clothes. We understand the stress and difficulties that children face due to displacement and traumatic situations, and we are happy give them something special and to make a difference in their lives.
Diverse Board Addresses Diverse Needs
Foundation Board Focused on Helping Those Who Need ItPat Jessup Board President 2005 – 2008 Susan Barry Board President 2008 – 2011 Liz Peckham Board President 2011 – 2013 Trudie Penta Board President
– 2016Barbara E. Moylan Board President Anthony Schaefer Board President By Loni Nannini
The Board of Directors for Long Re alty Cares Foundation harness a wealth of knowledge and life experiences to leverage home commerce into caring.
“Diversity is one of many strengths of the board of directors for Long Re alty Cares Foundation,” said Pat Jes sup, a real estate agent with the Oro Valley office who served as the second president of the foundation from 2005 to 2008. “The community of Tucson and Southern Arizona is culturally, eco nomically and ethnically diverse. The board reflects that and so do the chari ties that the foundation supports.”
Foundation board members boast backgrounds in government, private industry, education, health care, mar keting, small business ownership, tech nology, and many other fields. Jessup emphasized that a large percentage of REALTORS®, himself included, have segued into real estate from other ca reers.
“When you come to real estate as a second career, you bring a whole set of valuable experiences, goals and skills that affect how you practice real estate, how you live, and how you give,” said Jessup, a native Tucsonan and Univer sity of Arizona graduate who worked in aviation and fire management prior to earning his real estate license.
Jessup believes that REALTORS®’ life experiences are enhanced by the time, talent and treasure that many dedicate to nonprofits, resulting in unique insight into the needs in South ern Arizona.
That shared insight is fortified by a dedicated culture of caring, said An thony Schaefer, president of the Long
Realty Cares Foundation from 2019 to 2021.
“There is a beautiful spirit of service within the culture of Long Realty Com pany. All branches of the organization proudly join to empower the Long Re alty Cares Foundation mission,” said Schaefer, who leads the Schaefer Team at Long Realty.
A Spirit of Service
The success of Long Realty Cares Foundation illustrates the elements of giving and caring that go hand-in-hand with careers in real estate, according to Jessup.
“My feeling about the foundation is that the path traveled should be a bit better for you or I having traveled over it,” said Jessup. “I also think that if you have achieved some level of success, it is important to share it: We are paying back the future.”
Jessup did his part guiding the young foundation through its first major gift − and largest single gift to date − for $200,000 in seed money to establish HabiStore Tucson in 2006. The venue offers the public low prices on home building supplies, appliances and furni ture, while also providing the opportu nity for local businesses, home builders and individuals to recycle new and gen tly used items and surplus materials.
“HabiStore and Habitat for Human ity are a natural fit with the founda tion. In the hierarchy of basic needs, a safe and comfortable shelter are at the top of the list,” said Jessup, who is also a long-time supporter of Ott Family YMCA, the Community Food Bank, and the Arizona Daily Star Sports
men’s Fund, which sends children from low-income and military households to summer camp.
In a sense, the foundation itself has taken on the role of a philanthropic first responder, said Ron Sable, VP of the board for Long Realty Cares Foun dation.
“We are about responding to need. That is the critical criteria,” said Sable, who paired up with his wife, Patsy, a Tucson native, to form the Patsy Sable Team for Long Realty Company in 2004. Prior to relocating to Tucson, Sable enjoyed a 50-plus year career in aerospace defense − a highlight was working for the National Security Council under President Reagan.
“Tucson is an amazing place. I don’t think you can watch a sunset here or look at the clouds over the mountains without recognizing how special it is,” said Sable. “However, it also has special needs, and there are a lot of them. That is where Long Realty Cares Foundation comes in. We may never address all the needs, but we can certainly do our part.”
Many board members find the foun dation’s support of nonprofits close to home particularly compelling, said Susan Barry, board president from 2008 to 2011.
“When I took over in 2008, the hous ing crisis was at its peak. Obviously, that affected the foundation, but agents and employees of Long Companies contin ued to give because they felt it was im portant to support local organizations and the local community,” said Barry, who has been an agent with Long Re alty for 22 years. She is based at the Oro Valley office with her partner and hus band, Dr. Jim Levi, a retired orthopedic surgeon from Tucson Orthopedic Insti tute. “We also tried to make sure that small nonprofits doing necessary work received help to keep them from going under.”
Barry finds the foundation’s contin ued support of deserving nonprofits beyond gratifying.
“During our lifetimes, I think it is im portant to support organizations we feel strongly about and help them maintain their strength in the community,” said Barry, who has served on the board of directors for the Phoenix Arthritis Foundation and supports the University of Arizona Arthritis Center.Thom Melendez Paul Oelrich Sherry Ulasien Reneé Gonzales Martha Staten Katherine Zellerbach Peter DeLuca Jeni Hisko Jacque Torres Nancy Hennessey Deidra Spinks Matt Rivera Debbie Goodman-Butler Jennifer Anderson Doreen Roush Karen Barrera Ron Sable Vice PresidentPresident SecretaryTreasurer BOARD
from page 155
Promoting Awareness, Empowering Nonprofits
Foundation grants not only fund an array of worthy organizations, but also help to tell their stories to the public, said to Paul Oelrich, a seven-year vet eran of the board and current treasurer.
“We hear about so many deserv ing organizations centered in Tucson and surrounding areas that shore up so many factions of the community, whether through supporting children, diversity, veterans and seniors, or even by speaking kindness through the world. It is wonderful to give these recipients exposure,” said Oelrich, who began his career as a REALTOR® in 2012. His prior experience includes a 20-year ca reer with American Airlines and nearly a decade as VP of marketing for Execu tive Development Systems in Dallas.
Oelrich said he appreciates the op portunity to serve with the foundation after years of volunteerism, including stints as a board member for nonprofits such as IMPACT of Southern Arizona.
“There is a difference between serv ing on the board for a charitable orga nization and serving on the board for a foundation,” Oelrich said. “Charities are always in need of money and ser vices, so it feels like such a blessing to be involved with the foundation, which is able to fund grants to charities. It is really a blessing to be able to give back to the communities that we serve as REALTORS®.”
Secretary of the Board Peter DeLuca agrees that most realtors are grateful for the opportunity to contribute to those in need.
“I think that the majority of REAL TORS® feel fortunate to be in this business at the time we are in it,” said DeLuca, a graduate of Marana High School who became a REALTOR® in 1987 after careers in construction and massage therapy. “They are a really good group of people who are all try ing to do the right thing and are very inclusive with the nonprofits that they support.”
Visionary Stewardship into the Future
The ability of Long Realty Cares Foundation to distribute dollars across the nonprofit spectrum makes it a force for good now and in the future, said Schaefer.
“Many foundations and nonprofits have a specific area of focus. In this instance, Long Realty Cares Founda tion is working for the greater Tucson community by accumulating dollars and support to distribute to a variety of philanthropic organizations,” said Schaefer, a Tucson native who has been active with numerous organizations and fundraising efforts including El Rio Foundation, El Rio Vecinos, the 2022 American Heart Association Heart Ball Campaign and Social Venture Partners. “This ensures the entire community is taken care of, not just a specific subset.”
With explosive growth in Southern Arizona corresponding to increased need, Schaefer believes the Long Real ty Cares Foundation is more vital than ever to the health of the region.
continued on page 158 >>>
Youth On Their Own
Long Realty Cares Foundation has been supporting Youth On Their Own consistently for many years. The foundation has given YOTO well over $33,000 in grants over the years and many employees with Long Realty Companies have also made contributions and supported in-kind drives to collect supplies for students.
They have helped so many youths who are experienc ing homelessness to graduate from high school with our suppor t.
“We need to continue to build out our donor base and our supporters within the organization while also seeking out side supporters who can be confident that their dollars will be stewarded with responsibility and intentional focus,” said Schaefer.
The foundation has worked diligently to raise its public profile through events such as the annual Tickets to Care raffle and other avenues, said Trudie Penta, who was board president between 2013 and 2016.
Penta, who has been an agent with Long Realty since 1996, encourages the public to consider gifts to the founda tion in honor of or in memory of oth ers.
“I did this recently when my friend’s husband passed away and she loved it. It is a great way to honor someone’s memory and raise money for the foun dation,” Penta said. “All the money we raise goes right back into the commu nity. The foundation has done so much, it is unbelievable.”
Ultimately, the leadership, commu nication and commitment of current and former board members inspires the confidence necessary for a contin ued legacy of giving, said past president Barb Moylan, a 10-year veteran of the board and president from 2016 to 2019. Under Moylan’s guidance, the founda tion established the “Annual Significant Gift” which has continued over the years.
“The board members are fantastic. They have always had lively discus sions as to the merits of the charities,” Moylan said. “When they review each grant request they look at how it will di rectly impact the charity and the clients each charity supports. I don’t remem ber a time I ever walked away from a meeting when I didn’t wish we had more money to give because the causes are so worthwhile.”
Board President Thom Melendez has no doubt that the viability of the foun dation is enhanced by the generosity and varied skills of its many members.
“I think all of us recognize that phi lanthropy is made more powerful by the opportunity for people with different strengths and talents to come together to give back now and in the future,” Melendez said.
− Bethany Neumann, Director of Development & Communications for YOTO
YOTO will support 1,500 middle-school and highschool youth in Pima County during the 2022-2023 school year as they pursue graduation and continued success.
Agent of Philanthropy
Diane Weintraub Leads Foundation to FruitionBy Loni Nannini
As an avid volunteer and successful real estate agent, Diane Weintraub rec ognized the need to support the efforts of fellow real estate agents who were gifting time and talent to local charities.
Weintraub had been with Long Re alty for more than 20 years when she approached Steve Quinlan, who was president of Long Realty at the time, and then General Manager Rosey Ko berlein with a proposition to establish what became the Long Realty Cares Foundation.
“I said, ‘I want to do something for the company. We need to acknowledge the REALTORS® who are spending their time helping others.’ I did some research and we formed a board and then a foundation. The effort just grew and grew,” said Weintraub, who was the founding president when the foun dation was formed in 2002.
Quinlan credits Weintraub with working tirelessly to bring the concept to fruition.
“Diane was an innovator, and other agents really embraced the vision,” he said.
Weintraub particularly appreciates that the process provides both REAL TORS® and their clients with oppor tunities to become stakeholders in non profits, essentially pulling more people into the circle of giving.
“There are so many people in need and they appreciate the help so much,” Koberlein said. “If a REALTOR® gives part of their commission to an or ganization that they love, certainly the organization is going to talk about that REALTOR® and refer that REAL TOR® to others.
“For REALTORS®, this improves business, and it boosts awareness about the nonprofit. It also shows the REAL TORS®’ commitments to the commu nity. They aren’t just buying and selling houses; they are building community by helping others.”
Starting the foundation was a gratify
ing experience for Weintraub, a former psychologist, who arrived in Tucson at age 12. She graduated from Tucson High School and went on to attain a bachelor’s degree in sociology followed by a master’s degree in counseling and guidance from the University of Ari zona.
She counts Long Realty Cares Foun dation among her greatest achieve ments in real estate and philanthropy.
“It was a priority,” she said. “I loved being a REALTOR®, but I loved the foundation even more.”
Ultimately, Weintraub is optimistic that the Long Realty Cares Foundation tradition of caring will endure and that the public will continue to embrace the mission.
“Some people want to make money and keep it in their family. I think that is selfish,” she said. “There are so many ways we can help others, and I en courage everyone to think about their legacies.”PHOTO: BRENT G. MATHIS
Years of Community Giving
2022 Hall of Achievement Honorees Announced
The Tucson Advertising Federation Educational Foundation recently hon ored professionals for the 2022 Hall of Achievement in advertising and mar keting. These awards, which were given out in September, commend those who have excelled in their careers in this competitive field.
Mary Rowley, managing partner and CEO of NüPOINT Marketing & Market Research, received the 2022 Silver Medal Award. It is a nationally recognized award for individuals who have made outstanding contributions to advertising and have been active in furthering the industry’s standards, cre ative excellence and responsibility in ar eas of social concern.
Roman Sandoval, president of San doval Creative Inc. and Debbie Wag ner, general manager of Arizona Lotus Cor p., will be inducted into the Adver tising Hall of Fame, which honors the best among local industry professionals who have led, mentored and inspired others to succeed in this industry.
Michelle Garcia-Estrada, account ex ecutive/media buyer for Hilton & My ers Advertising, was named the 2022 Ad Professional of the Year, which rec ognizes marketing and advertising pro fessionals who have also led, mentored and inspired others to succeed.
The 2022 Next Gen Award was given to two recipients this year: Adrienne Robertson, general sales manager for
KVOA TV and Trevor Davies, produc er/director for Cox Media. This award salutes advertising professionals 40 and younger who are making a significant impact on the industry through leader ship, career achievements and personal qualities.
Net proceeds from the AAFT Adver tising Hall of Achievement event ben efits the TAFEF, a 501(C)3 charitable organization that provides paid student internships for aspiring advertising and marketing professionals attending col lege in Southern Arizona.Biz Mary Rowley Roman Sandoval Debbie Wagner Michelle Garcia-Estrada Adrienne Robertson Trevor Davies
NEW TO MARKET
Project: Butterfield Logistics Center
Location: Block D Butterfield Business Center, Michigan Street and Alvernon Way
Owner: TPA Group
Architect: Ware Malcomb
Completion Date: First quarter 2023
Construction Cost: N/A
Project Description: The 195,000-square-foot industrial/distribution building includes a 135-foot truck court, 60 dock positions and a 32-foot clear height.
Project: FedEx Ground – Pier Docks and Parking Expansion
Location: 3350 E. Westco Place
Owner: Westco Tucson
Contractor: Rio West Development & Construction
Architect: Burton and Associates Architects Completion Date: March 2022
Construction Cost: $5.3 million
Project Description: This is FedEx Ground’s second phase of expan sion, which includes an additional 10 acres of site improvements and three more pier docks.
Project: Lohse Family YMCA
Location: 60 W. Alameda St.
Owner: YMCA of Southern Arizona
Contractor: Concord General Contracting
Architect: Swaim Associates Architects Completion Date: Expected April 2023
Construction Cost: $4.3 million
Project Description: Renovations to the existing building include up dated pool and lobby, new front façade and the addition of a bike hub.
NEW TO MARKET
Project: Rainbird Manufacturing Building
Location: Southpoint Industrial Park
Owner: Rainbird Corporation
Contractor: Chasse Building Team Architect: WSM Architects Completion Date: May 2023
Construction Cost: N/A
Project Description: New 105,000 square foot manufacturing facility located on existing Rainbird campus
Limited . Tucson Blvd. l Holdings
Contractor: Rio West Development & Construction
Architect: Burton and Associates Architects Completion Date: January 2022
Construction Cost: $650,000
Project Description: A 14,000-square-foot former bank vault building was renovated into a manufacturing facility for custom aircraft interior components.
Project: Cabana Bridges
Location: 1102 E. 36th St.
Owner: Holualoa Companies and Greenlight Communities
Contractor: Greenlight Construction
Architect: WORKSBUREAU Completion Date: March 2023
Construction Cost: N/A
Project Description: Cabana Bridges provides 288 attainable residen tial units with modern designs and desired amenities at attractive rental rates.
Festival Celebrates Tucson’s Arts, Business EcosystemBy Tom Leyde
The TENWEST Impact Festival re turns to Tucson in November after a two-year COVID-19 pandemic hiatus.
In its 6th year, the UArizona Center for Innovation (UACI) will join Startup Tucson as a co-lead for the event, which will take place in downtown Tucson Nov. 1-5. This year’s festival marks its sixth anniversary.
“I’m unbelievably excited about the progression of this event. The energy and momentum has increased year af ter year,” said Eric Smith, executive director of the UArizona Center for In novation. “UACI operation has been in volved in idea funding since most of the event’s existence. The center is putting in a lot of time and resources to make not just IdeaFunding, but all of TEN WEST even better this year.”
The festival’s goal is to promote and foster a culture of innovation and sus tainability, bringing together communi
ty innovators, artists, organizations and stakeholders. It also celebrates Tucson’s creative arts and business ecosystem.
UACI is a full partner in this year’s festival. Headquartered at the UA Tech Park off Rita Road and Interstate-10, the center helps science and tech com panies advance through a continuum of education and activity using a 27-point structured roadmap program. For nearly two decades, UACI has directly served over 200 companies and impact ed thousands of entrepreneurs. This is done by providing access to people, programming, and places that help en trepreneurs take their companies from idea to market.
Startup Tucson, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, and the festival’s founder, began in 2012 and serves as an advocate, educator and connector to entrepreneurs. It assists more than 3,000 entrepreneurs annu ally and has more than 300 members.
Startup Tucson alumni have brought more than $44 million in investment and more than 400 new jobs to the area since its founding.
The TENWEST multi-day event includes the IdeaFunding competition on Nov. 3, which marks its 25th year. Entrepreneurs compete for cash awards totaling $50,000. Arizona Commerce Authority is the title sponsor this year, while UAVenture Capital is sponsor ing a $25,000 cash prize. Other prizes range from $2,500 to $10,000.
The IdeaFunding competition is open to “early stage” Arizona com panies. These are firms with less than $500,000 in funds raised or received in the form of a loan or grant, and with less than 10 full-time employees. Ap plicants pitch their companies before a panel of judges.
“For 25 years, IdeaFunding has been a pillar for the entrepreneurial commu
nity of Southern Arizona,” said Startup Tucson CEO Liz Pocock, in a news release. “We are thrilled to bring the pitch competition ... back in person to celebrate this milestone and the impact prior winners and the event have had on Tucson over the years.”
Recent major prize winners include Courtney Williams, co-founder of Emagine Solutions Technology, and Erica Yngve, founder of Sonoran Stitch Factory.
Emagine developed a portable ul trasound device called VitaScan. The handheld device can be taken to remote communities to provide ultrasound services for OB-GYN and emergency healthcare where they are not currently available.
Located in the San Ignacio Yaqui community, Sonoran Stitch Factory provides a variety of services, includ ing single- and double-needle stitchery, embroidery, heat seal press, die cutter,Liz Pocock, CEO, Startup Tucson
button hole, grommet and RF welder services. Yngve also has two other com panies: Bralessly, a fashion brand, and Postcraft products, featuring industrial sewn products for housing, healthcare, hotels, resorts and cruise ships.
Along with pitches for prize money, TENWEST will feature major key note speakers, a creative conference, a capital conference on investing in local entrepreneurs and an entire day on sus tainability and the environment. Each evening will feature a TENWEST event focused on showcasing arts, culture and music within Tucson.
This year will also include the first ever TENWEST Street Fest on Satur day Nov. 5 in partnership with the Toole Warehouse Arts District. This free event will include a full-day of food, art, tech nology and music, local vendors and entertainment on Toole Ave including luchadores and multiple beer gardens “The Street Fest is a common space for
the community to come out and meet local artists, entrepreneurs and musi cians and have a great time celebrating Tucson,” Pocock said.
The street fest is free, but other events require tickets. Base tickets start at $40 and all-inclusive tickets are also avail able.
“The buzz around the different (fes tival) partners is really good,” Pocock said. “Everyone seems very excited. Many entrepreneurs are coming out of the pandemic and launching busi nesses,” she said. “It’s a great time for people to meet these people.”
For more information:
www.tenwest.com.PHOTOS: COURTESY TENWEST TENWEST IMPACT FESTIVAL
“Many entrepreneurs are coming out of the pandemic and launching businesses.”
ucson for years, and they have been honored with the clubs’ most prestigious awards.
The Zarlings received the Youth Im pact Award, while Bisbocci received the Click for Kids Award. The honors were announced June 10 at an event held at Casino Del Sol Resort. Both awards are given out annually by the Boys & Girls Clubs.
The Click for Kids Award recognizes a person, couple or organization that has made a substantial impact on chil
Clubs’ highest recognition of gratitude.
Winner Bisbocci is the owner of TacoBocci, which operates Taco Bell franchises. The company is building its 21st Taco Bell store in the Tucson area. Bisbocci has donated $100,000 annu ally to the Boys & Girls Clubs for seven years. He also serves as the clubs’ trea surer.
“I was actually pleasantly surprised,” Bisbocci said. “I didn’t expect it.”
The Oro Valley resident has a long
ing up in Hollywood, Calif.
“It’s quite a bit different now,” he said of the organization. “It was (then) for boys and mostly sports. ... I was raised by a single mom. ... It means something to me personally.”
He spent most of his youth in Hemet, Calif., where his grandparents lived. He went on to earn two college degrees: a bachelor’s degree in math and an MBA.
For 23 years, Bisbocci worked for Taco Bell at the corporate level in Cali continued on page 174 >>>Todd Bisbocci James and Terri Zarling
fornia and served on the Boys & Girls Clubs’ board in Orange County. Seven years ago, he moved to Tucson and bought 17 Taco Bell stores from the corporation.
He’s a firm believer in the mission of the Boys & Girls Clubs. “Number one, they proved a safe environment to keep youth out of trouble,” Bisbocci said. “It teaches youth social interaction. ... To day, there’s a huge educational compo nent, which I think is great. They help kids with their homework, advanced studies, whatever they’re interested in. ... I love how it’s evolved to include edu cation.”
The Youth Impact Award, given to the Zarlings, was created in 2016 to rec ognize an individual, couple or organi zation that has made a major impact on young people through innovative direct club programming and support. The clubs’ staff members chose the recipient.
The Zarlings created the Zarling Zoo Kids program. Each year the programTodd Bisbocci Owner TacoBocci
sponsors roughly 600 kids from the clubs’ clubhouses. They are given a free tour of Reid Park Zoo, and members of the zoo staff visit clubhouses twice a year to present programs.
“It was great for us, the Impact Award,” Jim Zarling said. “We didn’t expect it or anticipate it.”
Zarling, a former president of the Boys & Girls Clubs, and his wife came up with the Zoo Kids program and presented it to the clubs’ director. They then went to the zoo’s CEO and the program was born.
“It did everything,” Zarling said. “It accomplished everything that we cared about. ... The intention was, obviously, how much can we impact kids. It really was a fun thing,” he said. “It was great to see the wide-eyed kids during the pre sentations at the club houses. A lot of these kids have never been to the zoo. To be able to give them the opportunity is always a good idea.”
The Zarlings moved to Tucson in 1977 from Wisconsin. Jim went on to start Excel Mechanical, one of the larg est HVAC companies in Southern Ari zona. Terri founded Casa Niños School of Montessori. Both are now semi-re tired.Biz
“They help kids with their homework, advanced studies, whatever they’re interested in. ... I love how it’s evolved to include education.”
Pitches a Winner
Nonprofit Aiding Foster Care Youth Awarded at Fast Pitch TucsonBy Tom Leyde PHOTO BY BRENT G. MATHIS
Children in foster care need a lot of love and support, and FosterEd Arizona is doing just that.
Established in Tucson in 2017, the nonprofit statewide organization focus es on providing foster care children with educational support.
The group received more than $9,500 in financial support in March at the seventh annual Fast Pitch Tucson event held at the University of Arizona. The event is sponsored by Social Ven ture Partners of Tucson, which helps nonprofits gain more financial support. FosterEd was one of 10 organizations chosen to pitch their services to a panel of judges, with the hope of receiving fi nancial donations. More than $100,000 was awarded during the event.
This was the first time FosterEd was chosen to participate in Fast Pitch. “We were so shocked that the committee chose us,” said Jennie Hedges, FosterEd senior program manager for Pima County and a former foster parent. “It was so amazing.”
FosterEd received the $7,500 Tucson Electric Power to the People Award by winning a vote by those attending the event and those watching it on television who texted their votes. The group also received $2,000, as did the other nine nonprofits.
Financial pledges were still coming in at press time, so the total amount of donations FosterEd received isn’t fully known, said Hedges.
“It was such a wonderful night,” she said of the event. “Everybody had a great time.”
FosterEd is an initiative of the Na
tional Center for Youth Law, which engages in litigation and poverty work for education needs in Arizona. A 2015 report, commissioned by the Arizona Community Foundation, found that children in foster care in Arizona have a 33% rate of graduation from high school, compared with a 78% average for the rest of the state.
That gap prompted the establishment of FosterEd Arizona in Tucson.
“We hope to really help youth with anything having to do with education, Hedges said, “to help them graduate from high school and with whatever they plan to do next.”
Foster care children are emancipated from care at age 18, so preparing them for that time is especially critical for them to achieve success. These youth can choose to continue to receive Fos terEd support if they choose, Hedges explained. That support can include help with resumés and job searches, as well as helping them navigate college applications.
Funded by state and philanthropic donations, FosterEd not only works with children; it also works with foster par ents and the biological parents of foster children. Assistance fluctuates based on the amount of time children remain in foster care.
The overall goal of FosterEd, Hedges said, is to unify the homes of foster chil dren. The group provides tools for foster parents, biological parents and FosterEd liaisons. They include best practices for supporting foster youth, an academic plan, a compensatory education services guide and a wellness guide.
FosterEd also created a first-ever Youth Education Toolkit. The toolkit includes information on law, policies, practices and stories that address the distinct needs of foster care youth and inspire them to succeed. The organi zation prioritizes working one-on-one with foster children, Hedges said. Liai sons act as advocates, attending school meetings and even accompanying older youth when they enroll in college.
Pima County schools, Hedges said, have given liaisons space where they can meet and work with foster care youth.
“We’ve celebrated a lot of gradua tions and going on to college,” Hedges said. Last year, 70 foster care youth in Pima County graduated from high school. And since FosterEd Tucson has been in existence, it has aided some 1,800 foster care youth.
In April, the group opened its first central office near Country Club and Broadway, which will accommodate a working office and one-on-one interac tion with students.
Hedges said FosterEd can give talks on its services to Tucson groups and will hold workshops for people who want to become more empowered advocates for foster children.
“To know that people who were watching (Fast Pitch) that night is so ex citing and special, especially for a pro gram like ours,” Hedges said. “We’re fairly new. We hope to spotlight and share more awareness of children in foster care because education is very im portant.”
Loop, Livability.com said, “with plenty of sunshine to encourage spending time outdoors, there are regular cycling events and rides that take for a variety of skill levels — from leisurely cyclists to the more hardcore athletes; you’ll find it all in Tucson.”
among all colleges and universities designated as Hispanic-Serving In stitutions. The university’s undergraduate program in management informa tion systems was No. 3 among public universities and No. 5 overall.
green commuting op tions and unemployment. Commercial Café praises Tucson as GenZers make up over 11% of the popu lation–the largest share of all the cities studied.
state and the top employ er in Pima County. The list was compiled by sur vey ing employees working for businesses with at least 500 employees.